Graphic films in Hinsdale South class upset parents
"Brokeback Mountain," a film about a homosexual relationship, is one of the films some parents object to being shown in a film class in Hinsdale High School District 86.
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:17PM
HINSDALE — Hinsdale High School District 86 officials will discuss who should approve films after two parents objected to movies on the syllabus for the film as literature class.
Victor Casini, a parent of two Hinsdale South students, objected specifically to “American Beauty” and “Brokeback Mountain.”
“Profanity, violence, graphic depictions of sexuality are pervasive in these films,” Casini told the District 86 School Board Monday. “They are not appropriate to be shown in the classroom.”
He suggested less controversial films be used to illustrate the themes or subject matter the teacher wants to present.
He also protested that the syllabus with the list of movies, which he was required to read and sign, was not presented to him until the weekend after school started.
Parent Mark Timko said he was somewhat shocked by some of the films.
“You have juniors in that class. Legally, they are not allowed to see that movie,” Timko said.
Both “Brokeback Mountain” and “American Beauty” are rated R for restricted, which means children under 17 must be accompanied by their parent or guardian to see it in a movie theater.
Several School Board members questioned who should have oversight of the choice of films.
The board approves curriculum and textbooks, but “this board has never approved those movies,” member Richard Skoda said.
“I don’t think it’s enough for an English teacher and department chair to say (this material) is valuable,” Skoda said.
Board member Kay Gallo asked the rationale for having the board approve textbooks, but not other instructional materials.
Superintendent Nicholas Wahl advised the board the issue has important “tentacles.”
“This could venture into the discussion of academic freedom.” Wahl said.
He explained the district has a policy to handle complaints about curriculum and instructional materials, which advises people to complete a curriculum objection form and use the “uniform grievance procedure.”
“We do have a policy in place that I need to follow,” Wahl said. “That process is very complete.”
Casini is following that procedure, but both he and Timko said they would like a decision as soon as possible, because the film class is under way.
The board is expected to discuss the issue in detail at its Sept. 24 meeting. Skoda recommended that R-rated films not be shown in the class before then.