Let’s Make It Better

By now you’ve probably heard of the It Gets Better Project, the new YouTube channel created by advice columnist Dan Savage. Savage launched the project to reach out to teenagers who are bullied at school for being perceived as gay (many people assume, sometimes correctly, that gender-nonconforming kids are gay). The site is a collection of videos by LGBT adults who survived school bullying and grew up to be happy, healthy adults.

I can’t watch any of the videos without crying, getting goosebumps, or wanting to jump up and change the world right this second. Individually and collectively, these snapshots of people moving from suffering to thriving are, simply, beautiful.

It’s painful that such beauty had to come in response to such suffering, that LGBT people have to pass through the ring of fire we call high school—and that some don’t make it to tell their stories. But if bullying and brutality and suicidal thoughts are the reality at this moment, if we can’t end bullying today, then the best thing we can do for kids suffering in school right now is to connect them with adults who can help. Adults who can say, because they have lived through it: it does get better.

So, subscribe to the It Gets Better Project. Check out the Make it Better project, and participate in their Week of Action, October 5-11, culminating on National Coming Out Day. Spread the word about the Trevor Project, a GLBT suicide prevention service. Ask your school to show films from Groundspark and The Youth and Gender Media Project. Check out First Comes Love, a documentary in production honoring same-sex couples. Donate to these projects, if you can. I just did.

In these ways—and there are so many more; please share your ideas by posting a comment below—we can help kids who are suffering right now. And then we can get to work changing the world for the kids who come next.

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Comments

  1. says

    There are a number of blog posts already out there about why the ‘it gets better’ project is not a particularly helpful one, and how utterly patronising it comes across to suffering youth. I was a suicidal youth and this project would have made me feel worse, not better. These kids have problems /now/ and telling them to just wait until they’re older isn’t helpful.

    A much better use of people’s time would be to volunteer for an organisation like the Trevor Project, or if you can’t donate your time, donate some money. Even small amounts add up. And as you said, everyone should spread the word about resources like that! We need to connect youth with resources and people who will listen, not just tell them to wait and trust that it’ll get better eventually. That’s not good enough when you’re suffering and possibly suicidal. Thank you for linking to several resources for people to pass on! :) People outside the US can find hotlines to call on http://t-vox.org/index.php?title=Hotlines , among other places.

  2. shoffman says

    Michael, you’re right that the It Gets Better Project is not the only answer–it’s not enough on its own. But I don’t read that the project is *just* telling kids to wait until they’re older–I think it’s saying that if you can’t find any other solutions, know that things will change. I think it’s saying: Please don’t give up yet. We’re working on making the world a different place.

    I’m curious why the program would have made you feel worse? Please say more if you’re willing. I’m also curious what helped you hang on.

    Thanks for the link to the international hotline.

    And I just learned about a project launched by GLSEN and PFLAG last week: the Claim Your Rights Campaign, a national reporting program to build a record of incidents of bullying, harassment, and discrimination:

    http://community.pflag.org/claimyourrights

  3. Isralis says

    I feel completely opposite from Michael. In school, when I stayed home “sick” and seriously contemplated stepping out in front of the train as it passed my house, if ONE person had said “I believe that this isn’t just kids being kids, and I promise IT GETS BETTER”, I think I would have breathed such a sigh of relief. Instead, I felt that no matter what, my life was going to be full of these horrid people.

    Thankfully, it does get better. :)

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