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Winnipeg School Division Apologizes To Parents For Suicide Video

06/01/2013 07:06 EDT | Updated 08/01/2013 05:12 EDT
CP
A Winnipeg school division says it has apologized to the parents of a Grade 7 student who blacked out while viewing a graphic anti-bullying video in a health class.

Louis Riel School Division superintendent Duane Brothers told CBC News he met on Friday with the 13-year-old boy's parents, who have described the video as inappropriate and gratuitously violent.

"We did make some errors, and we apologized for those errors … and we had a very, very good conversation this afternoon," Brothers told CBC News on Friday night.

The 19-minute video, titled Love is all you need?, denounces bullying and homophobia but contains a graphic suicide scene at the end.

The boy's father, Alan DeBaets, said earlier this week that his son was "so disturbed and emotionally unequipped to view such horrific video that he had a medical emergency in class and blacked out."

Love is all you need? is set in a homosexual society in which heterosexual people are denounced and bullied and referred to as "breeders."

It shows a teenage girl driven to suicide after trying to have a relationship with a boy. She is beaten and branded with the word "Hetero" on her forehead before she goes home and cuts her wrists in a bathtub.

"We were horrified. Both my wife and I had a very difficult time sitting through it," DeBaets told CBC News in an interview Thursday.

"We were absolutely shocked that this would be somehow shown to the school, especially without any sort of permission."

Teacher did not preview video

Brothers said the teacher did not watch the video before showing it to the students — something that should have been done.

The teacher, who has already apologized to DeBaets, was temporarily put on leave while the school division investigated the matter.

Brothers said the teacher will return to the classroom next week. She was not disciplined, he added.

"Our understanding is her students, and a very healthy percentage of the parents, really want her to be back working with these kids," he said.

"We expect this teacher will be successful for years to come."

DeBaets has said he was unhappy to hear the teacher was still working with students without facing any reprimand.

The U.S.-based creator and director of Love is all you need? said the version that the Winnipeg students saw was aimed at adults and maybe older teenagers, not a young audience.

Kim Rocco Shields said she is working on an alternative ending that can be shown in classrooms, in which the main character lives.

Brothers said teachers must vet and judge any material that they want to show to students.

However, he added that he wants teachers to have the autonomy and resources to bring in new material to help students address difficult issues in society.

"There are issues in our culture — we know we have issues with bullying, we know we have issues with racism and homophobia, and this is huge stuff," Brothers said.

"We want our teachers to wade into this and help our young people, in age-appropriate ways, to become better citizens."

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