Goes Back to School

Every year at this time, millions of students head back to school, getting ready to hit the books as they seek out the rewards of education (you know, all-nighters, a caffeine addiction and stress headaches — or was that just me?).

For those of us who have left those school days behind, early September offers an opportunity to reminisce about the things we learned in school (how to write a literature review by reading only the introductions to articles; how to live on ramen and frozen peas). A little-known fact is that TV and movies also have significant educational value — especially for lesbians and bisexual women, who are forced to learn how to navigate the tricky queer waters while in a predominantly heterosexual educational environment.

Here, then, are seven lessons to be learned from movies and TV shows about lesbian and bi women and girls. If you’re still in school, take notes: Some of these lessons could come in handy next week.

Lesson 1: Lock the door before you get busy with your girlfriend in your dorm room.

In Lost and Delirious, a 2001 film about girls at a boarding school, Paulie (Piper Perabo) and Tori (Jessica Paré) are two girls in love — and handily enough, they’re also roommates. When they’re given a third roommate, Mary (Mischa Barton), her presence in the room doesn’t faze them; instead, she becomes a silent witness to their, uh, love.

Mary’s quiet acceptance, however, may have given the two lovebirds the false idea that they didn’t need to worry about privacy. One morning, when Paulie and Tori are slumbering together (naked), Tori’s younger sister, Allison (Emily VanCamp) bursts through the unlocked door and discovers them in bed together.

All sorts of unfortunate things happen after that unexpected outing: Tori insists she’s straight; she breaks up with Paulie, who becomes depressed and obsessed with proving her love to Tori; the movie spends an inordinate amount of time on the symbolism of an injured bird, etc.

If only Paulie and Tori had thought to lock the door to their room at night, none of that needed to happen.

The lock’s there for a reason, girls: Use it.