Parents' Guide to

For They Know Not What They Do

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Gentle docu looks at context of LGBTQ identity in religion.

Movie NR 2020 91 minutes
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Daniel Karslake's documentary is instantly engaging, never boring, overwhelmingly enlightening, and, most of all, a beautiful blessing. It provides families of faith a path to reconcile their religious beliefs with their feelings about their child's sexual orientation or gender identity. The film's attitude is comparable to that of a sympathetic pastor, listening compassionately to the parents' stories of how their world went topsy-turvy when their kids came out. There aren't any villains in the bunch -- even the evangelicals who told their 12-year-old son that his homosexuality was "a dealbreaker for God." Reflect back on the film's title: For They Know Not What They Do is presenting these parents not as instruments of hate but as people who honestly think that they're helping because they've been told by trusted authority figures that being gay or transgender is an impulse or a choice.

This compassionate approach just might work to help extinguish some of the pain that LGBTQ youth traditionally face in these scenarios. If parents go looking for educational material when they learn that their child is gay or transgender, perhaps this documentary will come up. And if they watch, they'll see both the best and worst potential outcomes. Thanks to its convincing but patient tone, when operating alongside a parent's love for their child, this film is likely to help parents overcome their own institutional bias. The movie's layers of facts and anecdotal evidence offer a compelling argument that trying to force someone to be something they're not -- especially when it's the very core of their identity -- is disastrous.

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