It gets better

Campaign for gay teenagers bridges a generational gap

In an ideal world, the “It Gets Better” campaign would not need to exist. In an ideal world, we would not see teen suicide reports happening weekly. In an ideal world, every child would grow up happy and healthy.

In an unideal world, bullying happens; it happens in almost every school.

This is where the “It Gets Better” campaign” comes in.

The project was launched by advice columnist Dan Savage in response to the recent string of suicides caused by anti-gay bullying. The most recent suicide victim was Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi. He jumped off the George Washington Bridge because his roommate allegedly videotaped him having an intimate moment with another male student. The tape was posted live on the internet.

In another case, Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head because he could not take being called gay, being mocked, and being pushed down the stairs anymore. Brown’s parents had filed complaints, but they fell on deaf ears. Altogether there were five counts of teen suicide from anti-gay bullying within the month of September alone. The “It Gets Better Campaign” works to undo the bullying and to become the beacon of hope for gay teens everywhere.

From Joe Jonas, to Anne Hathaway, to Jason Derulo, celebrities all over are collaborating to build up the “It Gets Better” campaign. The campaign consists of PSA-style messages on Youtube telling gay teens that suicide is not worth contemplating when life will get better.

Celebrities like Ellen Degeneres got up-close and personal. “We can’t let intolerance and ignorance take another kid’s life. And I want anyone who feels different and alone to know that I know how you feel. And there is help out there.” She released that statement on her show. Other celebrities shared their stories of having been bullied when young. These messages are powerful. They have not only the potential to save teens’ lives but to bridge an entire generation gap.

Teens everywhere now are more aware of how cognizant the older generation is of their struggles. These videos help adults communicate effectively to gay teens. For too long, have adults been kept away from approaching gay teens to counsel them because of the stigma that adults can instill homosexuality into the teens’ minds, or make the teens choose to be gay. This is why many high school and middle school counselors choose to avert the topics on sexuality. The Professional School of Counseling has released multiple studies reporting that homonegativity is prevalent among school counselors.

The “It Gets Better” campaign helps undo this. Adults are finally reaching out to gay teens. But it gets better. Teens are reciprocating by making their own “It Gets Better” videos to reach out to their peers.

The Rainbow Lounge, MIT’s counseling center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer students, is making a “It Gets Better” video. Come add your thoughts. What do you have to say?

Andy Liang is a member of the Class of 2014.