Georgia Impact

UGA professors’ film focuses on support of diverse sexual orientations and gender presentations

UGA professors' film focuses on support of diverse sexual orientations and gender presentations

Athens, Ga. – Two University of Georgia College of Education professors will premiere a new documentary film they produced next month that focuses on what they say is a need for research and effective interventions to reduce homophobia and heterosexism in public schools.

Be There For Me: Collective Memories of LGBTQ Youth in High School was produced by Corey W. Johnson, an associate professor, and Anneliese Singh, an assistant professor, in the department of counseling and human development services. They created the film to reveal the experiences of LGBTQ high school students, with the ultimate objective of creating safer school settings.

“‘Be There For Me’ and its associated curriculum and resources are just one small contribution toward helping Georgia school systems respond to the needs of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students and to create safer spaces,” said Johnson.

Singh notes “the film also helped spark the formation of the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, a group of educators working to provide resources for school teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents.”

The brutal murder of a gender non-conforming adolescent in Oxnard, Calif., by his 14-year-old classmate, the suicides of 11-year olds Carl-Walker Hoover in Boston, Mass., and Jaheem Hererra in DeKalb County, Ga. who experienced gay bullying, and similar but less tragic incidents in Athens-Clarke County inspired the professors to produce the documentary, Johnson said.

The documentary was filmed primarily at Clarke Central High School in Athens, with some additional shots filmed at Emory University in Atlanta. The cast includes Johnson and Singh, as well as Women’s Studies lecturer Shannon Miller, three UGA students and one from Emory University.

The documentary was directed and filmed by Jyoti and Rishi Kaneria ( who represent their work as a glimpse into lives and experiences that are not normally represented in mainstream media.

The film will premiere at UGA on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in Room 148 of the Miller Learning Center. It runs approximately one hour and will be followed by a panel discussion with Singh and Johnson, the filmmakers and cast.An additional screening will be held at Emory University’s Harland Cinema on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m.

The documentary is sponsored by a grant from the UGA Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, and was completed in partnership with the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition (, UGA’s GLOBES, Lambda Alliance, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Clarke County School Counselors Collaborative and Emory Pride.