The distributors of an acclaimed American documentary about bullying have decided to release the film unrated after it received an “R” rating.

Despite pleas from The Weinstein Company Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein and a petition supported by almost half a million people, the Motion Picture Association of America refused to change the rating given to Bully because of swearing.

This meant that the film could not be viewed by anyone under the age of 17 which, say the producers, would result in many teens missing out on the film and its vital message.

On Monday, The Weinstein Company announced that it would instead release Bully without a rating in American cinemas, thereby given theatre owners the choice whether or not to screen the film and what restrictions to place on it.

In the past, some cinemas have refused to screen unrated films.

“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real,” commented Bully director Lee Hirsch on the controversy.

“It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it’s up to the theatres to let them in.”

The Weinstein Company’s President of Marketing Stephen Bruno went on to add: “The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theatre owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves.”

Bully will be released in America on March 30th. The film looks at the growing phenomenon of the bullying of children in schools, including cases related to their sexual orientation.

Watch the trailer for Bully below.

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