14-Year-Old Launches LGBT Book Project
Amelia Roskin-Frazeel, a 14-year-old girl from San Francisco, California, has founded the Make It Safe Project which aims to donate books about sexual orientation and gender identity to K-12 schools, Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and LGBT-inclusive youth homeless shelters, in the hope that such reading material can help combat bullying and aid vulnerable LGBT teens.
Many young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teens only hear the word “gay” when it is used to mean “bad,” as in the phrase, “That’s so gay.” Schools rarely have books about being LGBT and most health curricula overlook LGBT relationships, sending a message to their LGBT students that they are not worth as much as their straight peers. As a result, startling numbers of LGBT teens have been bullied to the point where they have taken their own lives.
The Make It Safe Project donates books about sexual orientation and gender expression to schools and youth homeless shelters that lack the resources to keep their teens safe.
Giving: We donate books to K-12 schools, their Gay-Straight Alliances (a group that educates the school community about equality), and LGBT-inclusive youth homeless shelters nationwide.
The project has already donated books like Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger and Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez to schools and organizations in Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
The Make it Safe Project, which uses the slogan “One Book Can Save a Life”, also focuses on empowering teens to set up their own school GSAs and features a number of stories on the website’s blog from people who have done just that.
More on the Make It Safe Project’s Founder
According to the Make It Safe Project website, Amelia is a 2011-2012 GLSEN Student Ambassador and NorCal Youth Council Member for GSA Network. She also founded and ran a GSA at a private PreK-8 school and was one of the school’s student representatives on the Diversity Committee.
Amelia’s coming out story was profiled in the New York Times. In the profile she talks about how she came to realize at age 12 that she is lesbian and how when she joined a debate about gay rights on a social networking site she quickly became frustrated by the debate:
That is when I got fed up and finally stopped arguing for “gay rights” and began arguing for “my rights.” So that is how I came out to my friends, how every adult tells you not to come out: online.
After that debate, I realized that in order to teach people about what it means to be gay, I would need to be open about my sexual orientation. That year, I founded my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, The Rainbow Connection. I interjected when I heard people use homophobic slurs. Most importantly, I was honest when people asked if I was lesbian. I became the first openly gay kid in my school, and I am proud of it.