Eschewing narration, For They Know Not What They Do features four families speaking about their children’s gender and sexual orientation issues. Each family tells a story of their experience of a child dealing with his or her issue. In between the stories we hear from five ‘experts’ (for want of a better word) sharing their thoughts of and experiences with gender/orientation issues. We also see clips of vicious church-based attacks on the principles of freedom of choice, and freedom from fear, hatred, and physical attacks.
Superbly written and directed by Daniel G. Karslake, the film evokes the gamut of emotions from grief to joy. The Robertson’s son, Ryan, was attracted to males at an early age. Their evangelical church suggested ‘conversion therapy.’ It did not work. Ryan became self-harming and drug addicted. He died young. The two parents were, of course, devastated. Wife Linda, crying many tears in her interview, shares deep, deep pain in the realization that if she knew that homosexuality is normal, their son could have had a fulfilling life.
The McBrides’ son told his parents he feels female. The family wrestled with the issue, and daughter Sarah McBride became an activist in the LGBTQI community, and became the nation’s first transgender state Senator—in the State of Delaware.
For decades, sexual orientation and gender identity have received plenty of mainstream media coverage. It is easy to become inured to the strife, pain, and loss associated with these struggles. For They Know Not What They Do is a potent reminder that even though much progress has been made, much more progress is sorely needed.
(Photo of Sally, Sarah, and Dave McBride courtesy of ‘For They Know Not What They Do’)