MOVIES | “Straightlaced” documents gender pressures on teens


Straightlaced is a documentary not only—as its title suggests—about GLBT issues, but about gender issues in general faced by teens (about 16 and up). Using real-life scenarios explained by teens themselves in a casual and straightforward presentation, Straightlaced addresses the external gender pressures teens face (typically by peers, but society as a whole is addressed as well, especially family). Director Debra Chasnoff will be in Minneapolis on November 16 for the film’s regional premiere.

straightlaced, screening november 16 at the children’s theatre. for tickets ($15; $8 for students), see

The narrators talk about the expectations teens have for themselves because of the gender they just happened to be born into. The film, I feel, presents an accurate and fair representation of teens today: the teens narrating the film are very diverse in their senses of self, identity, sexual orientation, and perceptions. It was interesting and thought-provoking to hear opposing thoughts on the issues discussed, including clothing, extra-curricular activities, career choices, and friendships. The film also features a wide spectrum of opinions in terms of gender and sexual orientation identity crises.

The bottom line is that no one fits into an exact gender role, even though we feel like we need to, and we often feel like we need to explain ourselves to others. I felt that Straightlaced really brought out this message. Overall the film was interesting, informative, and very well put together visually. I would recommend it to anyone—but especially to teens. Hopefully it will be used in schools to get great discussions going.