The other day I was surfing various news sites and came across what I thought at the time was a mildly interesting story. Some Apple employees had made a video for something called “It Gets Better.” Simply curious about this project, I checked out the website. What I found hit me like a ton of bricks.
The first thing I saw was the pledge:
“Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that It Gets Better.”
Then, there is a list of names: “Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas. Cody Barker. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Raymond Chase. Tyler Clementi. They were tragic examples of youth who could not believe that it does actually get better.” I’ve read stories about isolated incidents of teen suicide due to bullying; I’m sure we all have, but like many others I had no idea how bad things really were. Maybe I’m just ensconced in my all too-comfortable adult life, or maybe I mentally blocked much of my middle school and high school experiences; either way, it was time for a serious reality check. So I read on.
The project started simply enough. In 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage made a YouTube video with his partner Terry to help out young people who were dealing with harassment. Two months later, the It Gets Better Project™ had grown into a worldwide movement. Now there are over 10,000 user-created videos that have been viewed over 35 million times. The project has received submissions from people in all walks of life—including celebrities and media personalities such as: President Barack Obama; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Senator Al Franken; Adam Lambert; Anne Hathaway; Colin Farrell; Chris Colfer of “Glee’;” Rob Thomas; Joe Jonas; Joel Madden; Sarah Silverman; Tim Gunn; Ellen DeGeneres; the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, and many more. But celebrities are just the tip of the iceberg; there are so many more contributions. The website states that every video changes a life—it doesn’t matter who makes it.
The Trevor Project, a benefactor of the It Gets Better Project, is determined to end suicide among LGBT youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone. Please visit their site at www.trevorproject.org.
Bullying is a subject I take very seriously, for my own reasons. There is no excuse for this abhorrent behavior. Bigotry and the ability/desire to bully are not things that are inherent to human nature; these are not things you are born with. They are taught, and are handed down from generation to generation. For example, I can still recall my earliest memory of racism. I was coloring a picture in kindergarten. The drawing was of a mother and her child in a kitchen. I wanted variety, so I made the child African, and left the mother caucasian. It didn’t even occur to me that this could be a problem. The teacher pointed out, “Well then, that can’t be the child’s mother.” I just looked at her, confused. Then she stammered after a minute that it was okay.
Though bigotry and bullying behavior need to be eradicated, our work is definitely cut out for us. Senator Al Franken stated:
“Bullying is a deadly serious and all too frequent part of school life. And tragically, it’s often ignored by teachers or administrators. This needs to change.”
We need to change hearts and minds, but that will take time, maybe more time than we as individuals have on this earth. We may have to leave this to future generations to carry on the fight. I don’t want my daughter to live in a world where this happens. As a society, it’s not always easy to see at the time, but it’s true—when an individual is openly disrespected, this hurts us all. So we all need to affect this change.
To those currently facing debilitating harassment, I simply say this: Being of rather smallish stature, I grew up being bullied both outside and inside the home. Growing up was extremely difficult for me. But I endured, and it got better. You can survive, you can have a voice. You can find your way, it just takes time. Unfortunately, some things cannot be conquered—they have to be endured. There are times in your life that simply have to be endured. But there is always another side, the other end of the tunnel. And even if you can’t see the light, it is there, just waiting.
Hold on, stay strong … because it gets better.
Source: It Gets Better Project™
This is one the most amazing social media projects to date. Such a needed voice. Has rumbled in the underground for years. But now has the opportunity to change the lives of so many. Thanks for shining the light here!
What a wonderful to post on which to arrive.
Teaching my small boy to be a good man, a kind and tolerant man, is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of how I want to parent.
We’ve had at least two local LGBT youth commit suicide in our area recently. It’s a sad statistic and I wish more people would hear this message and GET it. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Wonderfully written post!
This is such a great movement. I’ve heard so many things about it recently, that I can only be happy that something like this was started. This has been a huge step in acknowledging that bulling does exist, and it should not be a right of passage for kids.
Thank you for this post. Bullying is ridiculous, and it’s terrible that individuality isn’t celebrated, but ridiculed….
Very well written! My two girls have had a few problems with bullying in the past, and I was real close to homeschooling! Instead I talked them each through it and hopefully I am teaching them to have a thick skin because unfortunately they will need it. Sad, but true. I’ve been telling them since they could understand me that I don’t care what the other kids do, MY kids WILL be kind to everyone! However, sometimes I think their kindness opens them up to the bullies. It’s a tough world out there!
I hadn’t heard of that project before, so thanks for writing about it – and in such a powerful way.
What they are doing is powerful. Very, very powerful. Through our journey after our son’s birth I have also found that there are other, more socially acceptable, ways that people devalue others. Phrases like “that’s retarded” devalue people who have disabilities. My journey through my thoughts on “the r word” have brought me to a place where I have tried to remove all discrimination from my vocabulary. I’m still working on removing the discrimination from my mind.
I’ve listened to/read Dan Savage for about six years and am totally in love with him. He’s given a voice and an ear to so many kids. I’ve listened to countless podcasts where he calls kids and tells them it gets better, it gets better, it gets better (you gotta listen to alot of fetish calls first, but he gets to it). I’m glad you found him. I’m glad people are finally hearing him.
I work in higher education, and I’m proud to have participated as an ally in my institution’s contribution of an “It Gets Better” video. The Trevor Project is a beautiful thing, and I’m confident it’s saving lives and giving hope to countless youth struggling with acceptance. Thanks for helping spread the love!
I’m a LGTB teen and I was looking up It Gets Better and The Trevor Project and stumbled upon this article. I’m glad to see that some adults are finally paying attantion to our cause. Thanks to all who support us.
Greetings from Norway!
I came over this site when reading about The Trevor Project online. Personally I am very passionated by all of the work that The Trevor Project is doing especially their crisis lifeline. I know how it is to be discriminated for being a lesbian, to be told I am sick for loving another woman. Enough is enough there should be equal rights for all no matter who you are or were you live.
I am running my own fundraiser on a site called Crowdrise, here you can see it: http://www.crowdrise.com/fundraiserelise/fundraiser/elisemariemyrvangeik there are many teammembers supporting it from all over the world. I would love you to become a teammember to and help support my fundraiser to raise more funds for helping LGBTQ-teens.