Exploring Gender Identity with Jonathan Skurnik

On Monday middle school students, faculty members, and parents explored gender identity with filmmaker, Jonathan Skurnik.

Jonathan Skurnik is a documentary producer, director and cinematographer. Five of his films have broadcast on PBS and European Television, as well as on domestic Satellite and Cable stations. His films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center and in art galleries in New York City and at over two hundred film festivals throughout the world. He has won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the American Indian film festival, the Change Maker Award at the Media That Matters Film Festival, the Audience Award for Outstanding Achievement at Outfest, the Harry Chapin Media Award for films about poverty and Best Documentary Award at the UrbanTV film Festival.

Filmmaker and educator Jonathan Skurnik was a gender expansive child who loved to play with both dollhouses and Hot Wheels, wear pants and dresses. Like any child, he wanted it all! Then he started to get teased and bullied and gave up “girly” things. In the early 2000s Jonathan read about children who were gender creative and transgender and were living in communities that supported them. These children and their families were doing what he hadn’t been able to do as a child. So Jonathan created the Youth and Gender Media Project, a series of short films about these modern day heroes, which are screened in schools throughout the country to make the world safe for all flavors of gender identity and expression.

Some highlights from Mr. Skurnik’s three-session visit:

-He went over various definitions with students, covering terms like: gender binary, gender expression, and gender spectrum.

-He showed the film (to students) I’m Just Anneke, about a young person struggling to understand their gender identity while growing up in Canada.

-He answered several student questions related to: Anneke’s story, the process of filmmaking, and his work as an ally to transgender people.

-In the adult sessions he had audience members discuss their own personal gender journeys.

-He showed the film Creating Gender Inclusive Schools to faculty members, and later to parents at our PLAID event.

-In all three sessions the discussions were profound and engaging.

To learn more about Mr. Skurnik’s work, please visit: http://youthandgendermediaproject.org/

To access our library’s resource guide for books related to gender inclusivity, please visit: http://hamlin.libguides.com/c.php?g=974860

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