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Let’s Make It Better for LGBT Youth

Let’s Make It Better for LGBT Youth

Writer Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” YouTube project to let LGBT youth know that there is life after high school bullying continues to gain momentum with hundreds of people recording messages to tell LGBT and questioning teens that life does get better. Now the project has been taken a step further with the Make It Better Project, an action orientated resource that LGBT youth, together with straight allies, parents and educators, can use to make the situation better right now. More on that below.

First, among the countless number of moving and thought provoking messages that have been uploaded to the It Gets Better project channel on YouTube, Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame has created his own It Gets Better video which details how, aged 17, he tried to commit suicide because of the “despair” and “anguish” he felt:

Videos like this are inspiring and undoubtedly vital. I am cheered, though, to find that the “It Gets Better” message has now been translated into an action orientated resource through which LGBT youth can find out how to make life better for themselves and how straight advocates and educators can take steps to stop anti-gay and anti-trans bullying alongside that. This comes in the form of the Make It Better Project.

From the Make It Better Project website:

LGBT youth should not have to suffer through bullying at school!

We can Make It Better NOW!

The Make It Better Project gives youth the tools they need to make their schools better now!  Through our website and YouTube channel, youth and adults can work together to make schools safer for LGBT youth right now.

Columnist Dan Savage launched “It Gets Better,” a video message in response to recent youth suicides to tell LGBT youth that life gets better after high school.  The Make It Better Project takes this one step further, giving youth the tools they need to make their lives better now.

We aren’t waiting until high school is over for our lives to get better… We are taking action now! Join us!

Sponsored by the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and endorsed by an assortment of LGBTQ charities and organizations including GLAAD, PFLAG and Lambda Legal, the focus of the Make It Better Project is on empowering young people with the tools to make life better for themselves and how friends and adults can support and facilitate safe school environments around that. 

Among the group’s action points is a full page of advice for straight advocate youth and youths dealing with anti-LGBT bullying. The key message is, there are mechanisms to deal with this kind of harassment,  you do not have to be a victim and you can make a change. From the Make It Better Project youth support page:

Youth have the power to Make It Better Now!
You have the power to change your school, community, and to influence school policies for the whole country right NOW!   We have compiled a short list of action steps you can take or resources that can help you. While this isn’t a complete list, we are hoping it will be a jumping off point. Not all young people may feel ready to take all of these steps, and remember, you know what will work for you. There are big steps and small steps, things you do on your own, and projects that you will need other people’s help with, but you have the power to Make It Better!

[...]

Know The Warning Signs In Your Friends:It is important to know the warning signs of depression and suicide so that you can help yourself or friends get help if they need it.

[...]

File a Complaint
If you are being bullied or harassed, talk to supportive adults and then file a complaint at your school. To find out more, check out PFLAG and GLSEN’s Claim Your Rights Project. Make sure to let a teacher know, speak to a guidance counselor or administrator at your school. All schools should have policies in place to address bullying and harassment. Filing a complaint is the first step in helping to make bullying stop. If teacher’s and administrators seem unwilling to stop the bullying and harassment, contact a legal organization such as the ACLU, NCLR, GLAD (New England Only), or Lambda Legal who can help you enforce your right to be safe at school.

[...]

For Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Youth
For Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth there are a few important  organizations like Trans Youth and Family Allies, TransActive, and Gender Spectrum. Please make sure to check out these organizations to find more resources for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Youth. Similarly check out GSA Network’s Beyond the Binary campaign to create trans-inclusive school spaces. The Transgender Law Center also has amazing resources for young people in schools.

This is literally just a handful of the helpful resources the project offers. Click here for more

There’s also a section for adults on how they can support the campaign, including a resource for parents of LGBT or questioning youths, a small excerpt from which reads:

Parents
Advocate for your child if they are being bullied.  Learn how you can prevent, recognize, and respond to bullying.

•    Get help for your child if they are feeling suicidal.

•    Get involved in your child’s school.  Work with teachers and administrators to make your child’s school safer.  See Teachers and School Administrators below for action steps.

•    Support your child’s efforts to Make It Better at school.  Offer your support if they want to start or run a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or similar group.  Learn what a GSA is and how to start one.  Visit our Youth page to learn more about steps your child can take that you can support.

As mentioned above there are sections for educators and allies with links to specific resources to help challenge anti-LGBT bullying and prevent LGBTQ youth suicide. Click here for more information.

Finally, the Make It Better Project has set up an action center and will be planning action week events all over the country, bringing the Make It Better message to a town near you. There are several events already listed for the coming days and months, and the number of events is sure to grow as the project gathers steam. Click here to go to the events page. 

CARE2 PETITION: Help end anti-LGBT bullying!

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Connect with the Make It Better Project:


Don’t Suffer in Silence, Get Help!

The Trevor Project runs a 24/7 helpline with trained counselors ready to listen if you or someone you know would like to talk about the issues dealt with in this post.

The Trevor Project Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).

Trevor Project Links:

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Photo taken from the Make it Better Project under Fair Use terms, no infringement intended.

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26 comments

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12:47PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

Very inspiring video and I felt it was a real personal message being broadcasted. If it helps just one youth Mr. Gunn can be real proud he's been a part of it. I hope this project will help a lot of youth out there to realize they are not alone.

1:23PM PDT on Oct 17, 2010

Great stuff.

3:45PM PDT on Oct 13, 2010

Glad to read this.

1:16PM PDT on Oct 12, 2010

Awesome idea! These kids need to know that high school is not the end, it's the beginning. I was bullied horribly in school, and there were times I thought about taking my life. But my grandmother payed attention. She knew something was wrong and she told me over and over that those kids were just not good people. She let me know I was the better person for ignoring them (which was extremely hard). And now I think I'm strong because of it. I don't make fun of other people. I stand up for the ones who are being picked on. It's sad that I still find myself doing this as an adult. Most of those bullies will never grow up. But the ones being bullied are entitled to living a full life. We have to teach them there is more to life than high school.

11:15AM PDT on Oct 11, 2010

Good idea and I hope it will help youth to find the support they need. It's a good idea and a step, but more needs to be done ine the schools, at home, at the source.

8:25PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

Thank you Tim Gunn. Touching and heart felt....

6:33PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

I suspect that the real numbers for GLBT is closer to 15-29%. Yes, it is hard at first before you find others who will support you, you will feel as if you belong with them, and please remember that NOT reporting bullying does NOT stop it. Like any form of violence, it depends upon silence to continue. Be brave, having faith in all the rest of us who have travelled your path. STAY ALIVE!! ASK FOR HELP. IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED, GET HELP FROM A CLINIC/DOCTOR. DON'T GIVE UP. DON'T DIE. That is a permanent solution for a temporary problem; though it may seem at the time like it will go on forever, it won't.

12:39PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

I am so moved by Tim Gunn's vid which shouts out from his heart that ALL OUR LGBTQ youth deserve, need and must have SUPPORT AND HELP - and that our youth can and must reach out to safe people and organizations like Trevor Project and It Gets Better and Let's Make It Better. (And in our area here of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota: District "202" as well.) I agree: for me it has gotten MUCH BETTER - and yet I still need the constant reminders and supportive/encouraging statements from other LGBT folks whether friends/neighbors or even famous folks like Tim Dunn. He is equally supportive individually to the LGBTQ and straight young contestants on Project Runway - and now we can exactly why.

6:18AM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

what a great step!! Now let us start standing stronger, louder, together and bring this country into the modern century. We were supposed to be built on the love and freedom of diversity, when did we allow that to go away? Do no harm, come to America and you will be free to follow your dreams. Well in 2010 we as citizens have fewer rights then when we started. We need to stand together and not let Big Business, Religion and government take that away from us. It is time for a country that cares again!!!

4:09AM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

Its about time people take a stand. Three out of four of these Bullies end up in prison where they belong.

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