Vancouver – The It Gets Better project
In North American It will get better for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Youth after too many LGBT youth turned to suicide because of constant bullying, teasing, and harassment. The highest profiled suicide was of 19 year-old Tyler Clementi who attended Rutgers University. Clementi was videotaped by his roommate during an intimate encounter with another man. The video was posted on YouTube and Clementi took his own life when his complaints to his university fell on deaf ears. Raymond Chase also 19 years-old was a culinary student in Providence Rhode Island. Justin Aaberg from Minnesota and Billy Lucas from Indiana, both 15 years-old hung themselves because of gay bullying they were facing at school. Seth Wells from California and Asher Brown from Texas who were both 13 years-old also commited suicide. LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. These tragic suicides and many more should have been prevented. The It gets better project provides a much-needed message that will help LGBT youth.
Dan Savage a gay activist in Washington State started the It Gets Better
project on YouTube to let all LGBT youth and young adults know that life will get better for them if they stick around long enough to see it. Since the project was formed in September it has taken off, and has thousands of positive and encouraging messages from around the world. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Lance Bass, and Adam Lambert are a few of many famous faces that have made an It gets better video. Everyone from US President Barack Obama, to the local BC Teachers Federation has made a video of support for LGBT youth.
In the Vancouver LGBT community Actress, Acting Coach, and Business owner Luvia Petersen supports the It gets better project because of its message.
“I like it specifically because it focuses on positivity”.
Many young LGBT youth don’t have the support they need to help them through the difficult and awkward times that high school can bring for a struggling, and confused young LGBT person. Petersen had that support when she was younger and it helped her a lot.
“Playing rugby, being an athlete helped. I found like-minded people, and I had a good support network.”
The It gets better project delivers a great message of support for LGBT youth, but that message of support should first start in schools. Petersen thinks that schools have a big job to do to prevent gay bullying.
“Children look up to their peers they need to know that bullying won’t be tolerated, and that it’s not ok period.”
In Vancouver Caryl Dolinko is the VP of operations, and communications chair at Interpride, an international organization that ties pride together globally and works to put on pride events all over the world. Dolinko supports the It gets better project and has watched some of the videos.
“It’s a very powerful strong message.”
What does Dolinko think will happen when and if the It gets better project loses its media spotlight?
“Organizations need to continue working now and after, work doesn’t stop.”
Nobody knows how active and current the It gets better project will be two, three, four, or five months from now, however one thing is for certain the project has been a huge success. Thousands of people have made videos saying “It gets better” and that has opened the door for more respect, tolerance, and acceptance for anybody who is LGBT.
LGBT Youth Line 1-800-268-9699
Crisis Centre Suicide Line (BC) 1-800-SUICIDE