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SameDifferenceEPKmed .pdf



Original filename: SameDifferenceEPKmed.pdf
Title: SameDifferenceEPK.pages

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Contents  
!
Synopsis  

!
!
Graeme  Taylor  
!
The  Narrator  
!
Jefferson  Fietek  
!
Dr.  Antoine  Douaihy  &  Dr.  Liz  Winter  
!
Problems/Results/Solutions  
!
FAQ’s  
!
Media  Links  
!
Featuring  
!
Production  Team  
!
Crew  
!
Endorsements  
!
Support  
!
Stills
Justin  Aaberg  

!
!
 

Synopsis  
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  Aaberg
 
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  
Minnesota.    
 
 
 
Justin’s  birthday  was  March 9,  
2014. He  would  be  19 years  old.  He  
would  have  graduated  high  school  in  
June  of  2013

Graeme  Taylor
 
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  
LGBT  youth.
 
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  
advocacy.  

!

 
Graeme  graduated  from  Ann  
Arbor  High  School  in  June  of  2014.  He  
begins  college  at  Kenyon  in  the  fall  of  
2014.

The  Narrator
 
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  
experiences  bullying.

 
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  
orientation.  
 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  
potential  solutions.  

!

Problems  

• 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  
bullying  
• Homophobic  bullying  is  more  
prevalent  within  middle  schools

!

Solutions  
!

• 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

Results  

• LGBT  youth  who  experience  
harassment  have  diminished  
academic  performance  
• LGBT  youth  who  experience  
harassment  have  higher  instances  of  
depression  
• 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  

FAQS  
-­‐ 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  
donations.  
-­‐ 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.


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