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Make It Better

posted: 10.4.10 by archived

These last few weeks we’ve seen a very disturbing trend: around every corner, a new story appears about the bullying of teens and youth because of their sexual orientation.  In several prominent cases, these young people have committed suicide.

This trend corresponds with a recent survey showing that nine out of ten lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students are harassed in elementary and high school, while two out of three students feel unsafe.

On Facebook, several huge initiatives have been started to protest such bullying and to commemorate these lives.  Ellen Degeneres created a video statement about this bullying that has been widely watched and circulated.

Dan Savage, of the syndicated sex-advice column Savage Love, and his husband Terry Miller also began a YouTube channel called It Gets Better.  On the channel, role models, celebrities, and everyday people have posted short videos to let LGBT teens know that they themselves also had very difficult experiences when they were younger, but that things do get better.  The channel has had over 700,000 viewers. Here is Dan and Terry’s video:

I’d like to thank colleague Qwo-Li Driskoll for also pointing out the website and YouTube channel for a similar project: Make It Better. The philosophy of this project, in reaction to It Gets Better, is the idea that LGBT youth shouldn’t have to wait until they are older to live and learn in a safe and accepting environment. Here’s an example from the channel:

The bottom line is that our classrooms are not always the most accepting places – nor are our college dormitories, student centers, or streets.  Not every student even knows where they might find LGBT clubs and communities on campus. College often looks and feels an awful lot like high school, and sometimes intolerant attitudes and sentiments are expressed even more freely and virulently here. For instance, Rutgers University Freshman Tyler Clementi recently committed suicide as a result of bullying from his roommate.

I don’t have a grand solution. I don’t even have a small lesson plan. But I do believe that intolerance often proceeds from ignorance. If we can create the right spaces, contexts, and opportunities for students to express their identities and to truly recognize and respect their peers, we might begin to make things better.

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Categories: Campus Issues, Jay Dolmage
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