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Dr. Antoine Douaihy & Dr. Liz Winter
Same Diﬀerence is a feature length documentary that
presents the lives of two adolescent boys who identify as gay
from a young age. Graeme Taylor, now 18 and oﬀ to college,
grows up and goes to school in a supporting environment that
allows him to thrive. Justin Aaberg (1994-‐2010) unfortunately
grows up and goes to school ﬁlled with intolerant backwards
policies and scandal. Justin was just one of nine LGBT youth
that took their lives while attending the Anoka-‐Hennepin
School District between 2009-‐2011.
This resulted in state health oﬃcials declaring the school
district a suicide contagion, leading to a department of justice
investigation. The role the school played in these deaths is
explored through Jeﬀerson Fietek, the only openly gay teacher
in the district at the time. Additionally Mellisa Thompson, a
parent in the district, highlights the shortcomings of the school
board and the administration. Dr. Antoine Douaihy M.D., and
Dr. Liz Winter PhD, LSW, examine the current research on anti-‐
bullying and oﬀer solutions to handling gender issues among
adolescents within schools.
Justin Norman Aaberg had a
passion for music and was a gifted
cello player. He performed in his high
school orchestra as well as the school’s
musicals. He was a blossoming young
composer with great potential.
Although he had a supportive home
life and wonderful friends, he was
repeatedly victimized in school by
students who verbally and physically
harassed him because he was gay.
Tragically, Justin took his own life on
July 9, 2010, at the age of 15.
Justin was the seventh of nine
suicides that occurred between
2009-2011 in the Anoka-‐Hennepin
school district. The district was the
Department of Educations’s Oﬃce of
Civil Rights and the United States
Department of Justice which resulted
in policy change and a large
settlement paid out to several
plaintiﬀs and families.
Justin’s mother, Tammy Aaberg,
founded Justin’s Gift, a non-‐proﬁt
LGBT youth organization serving the
needs of youth in communities within
Justin’s birthday was March 9,
2014. He would be 19 years old. He
would have graduated high school in
June of 2013
Graeme realized very early in
his life something made him diﬀerent.
By age 9 he had already begun the
process of coming out before making
it publicly known at the age of 12.
During this time he experienced the
despair and diﬃculties many kids in his
situation do. Because of his strong
personality and a supportive
environment, he overcame many of
these diﬃculties and grew into a
remarkable young man.
In October of 2010, Graeme
took a stand for a local teacher who
was suspended for standing up for gay
and lesbian students. Graeme’s speech
was ﬁlled with passion and conviction
and very quickly went viral online. As a
result, Graeme was invited to appear
on The Ellen Show and to multiple
national speaking engagements about
In 2011, Graeme was invited to
attend a youth summit on bullying at
the White House. He has actively
sought opportunities to speak publicly
about LGBT equality and the
challenges of being a gay teen. On
7/1/12 the NEA presented the SuAnne
Big Crow Memorial Award to Graeme
for his work with LGBT youth
Graeme graduated from Ann
Arbor High School in June of 2014. He
begins college at Kenyon in the fall of
Our narrator is a thirteen year
old boy who was recently removed
from school due to bullying. His name
and his face are not used, because of
fears of escalation of bullying. The ﬁlm
does not clearly deﬁne whether he
identiﬁes as gay, merely that he
He is just beginning high school
and is facing many of the issues that
youth experience across the United
States and the world. He illustrates the
very real need to take action by
addressing and eradicating
homophobic bullying in schools.
More than fifty-million children,
in kindergarten through 12th grade, go
to school everyday within the United
States. Almost 5,000,000 of them will
have the same experience as these
three boys. Homophobic bullying can
be reduced if we start dealing with it.
Teachers & Doctors
Jeﬀerson Fietek was the only
openly gay teacher in the Anoka-‐
Hennepin school district during the
suicide contagion of 2009-‐2011.
Jeﬀerson was actively involved in
trying to address the issues within the
school and was repeatedly warned of
the potential consequences of
standing up for LGBT youth.
Jeﬀerson's adopted son,
Damon, was removed from Anoka
high school due to homophobic
bullying regarding Jeﬀerson's
Jeﬀerson is the co-‐founder and Vice
President of Justin’s gift, a non-‐proﬁt
LGBT youth organization that he runs
with Justin’s mother, Tammy.
Liz Winter PhD., LSW and
Antoine Douaihy M.D. examine the
current research regarding bullying
and anti-‐bullying campaigns. Through
statistics and their professional
insights, the doctors help to clearly
deﬁne the problem and illustrate
• 82% of LGBT youth report being
harassed at schools nationwide
• 40% report being assaulted
• 60% of LGBT youth report feeling
unsafe at school
• 1 in 10 students will grow up to
identify as LGBT
• 1 in 3 students report experiencing
• Homophobic bullying is more
prevalent within middle schools
• Increased access to LGBT inclusive
curriculum and materials, including
the ﬁlm Same Diﬀerence
• Supportive and knowledgable
teachers and staﬀ
• GSA’s -‐ Gay/Straight Alliance
network empowers youth activists
to ﬁght homophobia and
transphobia in schools through Gay-‐
Straight Alliance clubs
• Policy & Enforcement -‐ Anti-‐
discrimination policies aren’t just
needed in the workplace, we need
them in our schools as well
• LGBT youth who experience
harassment have diminished
• LGBT youth who experience
harassment have higher instances of
• LGBT youth who experience
harassment are twice as likely to
experiment with drugs and alcohol
• LGBT youth who experience
harassment are eight times more
likely to attempt suicide
-‐ Where can I see this ﬁlm?
-‐ Currently Same Diﬀerence is in post-‐production. The producers are seeking
funds to ﬁnish editing and scoring the ﬁlm, post sound and visuals,
marketing, distribution, purchasing clearances and titles, attorney fees,
and festival fees.
-‐ It is our hope that this ﬁlm can be a resource for children and their families.
An institutional version is being produced with a teaching curriculum to
better help teachers and staﬀ address the needs of LGBT students.
-‐ How can I help?
-‐ You can help by sharing the trailer for Same Diﬀerence with friends and family,
and spreading the word about this much needed ﬁlm.
-‐ You can help by checking out our SUPPORT page below and donating
whatever you can.
-‐ Tax deductible donations are managed through our ﬁduciary ‘Dreams
of Hope’. Be sure to follow the appropriate donate button for those
-‐ You can help by contacting the creators of the ﬁlm with oﬀers of help with
goods and services in any way shape or form you can provide.
-‐Where is this ﬁlms trajectory?
-‐ Once we have completed the 90 minute theatrical version it can be
distributed to festivals and then theatres. We will also create a 30 minute
institutional version of the ﬁlm that includes a teaching curriculum so
teachers/educators are better equipped to handle discussions surrounding
LGBT identity in youth. The institutional version will be rated PG and the
curriculum is being created with the assistance of six physicians who
specialize in LGBT youth and teen bullying. This institutional version is
intended to be shown in Gay/Straight Alliances throughout middle and
high schools nationally.
-‐Where does my donation go?
-‐ All money donated to Same Diﬀerence goes towards completing the
ﬁlm. With over 300 hours of footage and nearly four years of production,
this goal is close to being achieved. Currently, three individuals make up
the creative team. We are raising funds at this time to acquire the services
of a production team that handles festival runs (as we hope to enter
multiple ﬁlm festivals), a post sound production company to assist with
ﬁnal sound output, and a post visual eﬀects team. We also need funding
for attorney fees and the purchasing of clearances for news footage from
CNN, MSNBC , The Ellen Show, etc.