Author Archives: wegotyourbackproject

The Make it Better Project

Make it Better Project

http://www.makeitbetterproject.org/

About

Make It Better Project

What is the Make It Better Project?

GSA Network launched the Make It Better Project on October 1st, 2010 to give youth and adults the concrete tools they need to make schools safer for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students right now.

Through our YouTube channel, social media, and the campaigns, initiatives, and resources available on this website, the Make It Better Project aims to educate, motivate, and unite students and adults to effectively take action to stop bullying and harassment in schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  Our goal is to create safe, welcoming school environments that actively support LGBT youth and prevent suicide.

GSA NetworkContact Us

The Make It Better Project is sponsored by Gay-Straight Alliance NetworkGSA Network empowers youth to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools by training youth activists and supporting student-led Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in California and throughout the country.

How does the Make It Better Project differ from the It Gets Better Project?

Columnist Dan Savage started the “It Gets Better” video campaign to send a message of hope to LGBT youth who are experiencing bullying and contemplating suicide.  His project, along with a swell in media coverage of youth deaths by suicide in the fall of 2010, ignited dialogue across the country about the epidemic of bullying in our schools. But it left an important question unaddressed: what can we do to make it better?

GSA Network launched the Make It Better Project to let students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and adult allies know that there are concrete actions they can take right now to make schools safer for all students.

Is bullying is a widespread problem?

Yes. The federal government estimates that 2 out of 10 high school students experience bullying each year, and the problem is typically worse for middle school students.  For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, this rate is 9 out of 10.   Bullying, particularly bullying based on bias or discrimination, is an epidemic in our country.

“The Make It Better Project is a chance to do something about injustices in our schools. It’s an opportunity to have a voice, to be known, to be understood, and to be accepted. It will NOT get better until we MAKE IT BETTER!  I participated because I know what it’s like to be discriminated against, not only because of my gender identity, but by my skin color as well. It hurts to know that someone will not be accepted and it is devastating to feel so unwanted and hated that you get pushed to the brink of self-harm. I’ve participated in Make It Better because it gives me a chance to help the ones I wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.” - Buddie Sims, student, Pomona, California

Quote

To me, it’s the people …

To me, it’s the people that are clearly different that are the heroes. They’re the ones that create a space for us gays to exist. Without them, we would all be in the closet. They push the boundaries, refuse to assimilate. They scream, from the rooftops, that they refuse to blend in, to follow rules, to cave in to societal pressures.

They are the ones who make the fight worth it, because their everyday life is the fight!

Read the rest of “Here’s to the Faggots!” by on OhMyHappiness.  The author of the blog is based in Beirut, Lebanon and describes himself as, “Gay, atheist, activist, pacifist, Arab. Among other horrible things.”

WGYB Is Now on Tumblr!

The We Got Your Back Project is now on Tumblr!

Follow us at: http://wgybproject.tumblr.com

Content will be mirrored here & on Tumblr!

Thank you!

One Town’s War on Gay Teens

This article… this hate is why we started this project.

One Town’s War on Gay Teens – Rolling Stone Magazine (online)

One Town’s War on Gay Teens

In Michele Bachmann’s home district, evangelicals have created an extreme anti-gay climate. After a rash of suicides, the kids are fighting back.

by: Sabrina Rubin Erdely

A candlelight vigil in Minneapolis for the victims of gay bullying.

A candlelight vigil in Minneapolis for the victims of gay bullying.
© Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ZUMApress.com

Every morning, Brittany Geldert stepped off the bus and bolted through the double doors of Fred Moore Middle School, her nerves already on high alert, bracing for the inevitable.

“Dyke.”

Pretending not to hear, Brittany would walk briskly to her locker, past the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who loitered in menacing packs.

“Whore.”

Full text after the cut.

Continue reading

Black and Trans: A Double Burden

“Can you imagine what it’s like to see people you work with refuse to walk on the same side of the street with you or sit with you at lunch, or to be told that you are unhirable, just because you are a transgender man?”

Check out the rest of this great article here: http://www.theroot.com/views/black-and-transgender-double-burden?wpisrc=root_lightbox

A gay Gibson County couple said they were assaulted when they tried to attend church services at the Grace Fellowship Church in Fruitland last Wednesday.

“I went over to take the keys out of the ignition and all the sudden I hear someone say ‘sick’em,’” said Gibson County resident, Jerry Pittman Jr.

Pittman said the attacked was prompted by the pastor of the church, Jerry Pittman, his father.

“My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request. My uncle smash me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back,” said Pittman. He said bystanders did not offer assistance. He said the deacon yelled derogatory homosexual slurs, even after officers arrived. He said the officers never intervened to stop the deacons from yelling the slurs.

More information is available here: http://www.wbbjtv.com/news/local/Assault-Complaints-Filed-after-Incident-at-Church-130746713.html

If you would like to tell Grace Fellowship Church this isn’t all right, Faithful America, a religious organization with a Christian emphasis, is holding a letter writing campaign.

Stand Up to Cyberbullying Webcast

Yahoo! Safely, in partnership with Common Sense Media and a Thin Line, an initiative of MTV,  invite you to participate in an eye-opening evening where parents, teens and teachers will come together to celebrate those who stand up and step in when they see cyberbullying happening, and explore the challenges and opportunities of growing up in a public and powerful online world.

While one in three kids is a target of cyberbullying, there are two kids who play a different role. Every day, kids are making critical decisions about how to live and treat others in a digital world, and many of them are providing brave and inspirational examples of what it means to step in and stop cyberbullying.  Take part in this national, interactive conversation about how to empower kids to take a stand against cyberbullying, by practicing safe, smart, and respectful digital behavior.

Watch the town hall live on Yahoo! Safely!
Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm Central Standard Time

More info here: http://safely.yahoo.com/teens/townhall/

Town Hall “Bullying: It Stops Here” airs Oct. 9

CNN, Facebook, Cartoon Network and Time Inc. have teamed up for a special multi-platform effort aimed at taking a stand to help stop the bullying crisis.  Anderson Cooper 360° will air a week-long series focused on bullying in addition to a town hall hosted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, marking the one year anniversary of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi.’s death.

Anderson Cooper will reveal the results of a six-month long pilot study that provide new insight about why kids bully each other and how parents and educators can more effectively stop the problem. In partnership with University of California sociologist Dr. Robert Faris, this groundbreaking investigation involving over 700 junior and high school students will explore the complex social dynamic of bullying, and how certain students hold the key to stopping the problem.

The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation

http://www.standupfoundation.com/

Reflections of A Black Queer Suicide Survivor: Part 2

Don’t miss the second part of Darnell Moore’s power reflection on being a black queer suicide survivor.

I wanted to be free from the painful situations that eroded the peace in my life. I was born into a world that was not ready for the arrival of a black, male/female loving, gender-maneuvering, book/dance/music-adoring, economically challenged, urban boy. Indeed, the world is not and has not ever been ready for me and other brown/black/queer men…

…We have what is needed within us individually and among us communally to push through such desires in the same way we lived (and are living) in spite of the auction block, chains, whips, nooses, firing squads, laws, prisons, street corners, public health office examination rooms, strangers’ fists, lovers’ arms, and our own hands. It is easy to live when we can put to death others’ thoughts of us. So live, brothers.

Read the rest and share it with your friends!

Darnell Moore: Reflections of a Black Queer Suicide Survior

They wanted to destroy me because I was, to them, a living sign of difference, subversive rebelliousness, an affront on black masculinity and the sanctity of their presumed heterosexuality (even though a few of the “hard” neighborhood boys tried to cross the boundaries of their heterosexuality with me). In many ways, it was this same force of ideas (i.e. What it means to be a boy/man in the hood? A black boy/man? A black queer boy/man? etc.) that had its hand on my back, pushing me, a few years before as I readied myself to leap from my window.

Darrel Moore has written a powerful post about his experiences as a suicide survivor.  Check it out and pass it around.  Let’s get this story to the people who need to read it the most.

Archie’s Kevin Keller #1-2 Review

Check out Neo-Prodigy’s review of the first two issues  Kevin Keller, Archie’s first gay comic character!

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that somehow when no one was looking, Archie became the coolest kid in the room. Forget 90 percent of the titles being churned out by the big two. If you’re looking for quality and progressive comics, Archie is where it’s at…For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with Archie, there is a reason for the major progressive shift. Since new editorial management has taken over, there has been an emphasis on diversity: characters of various ethnicities as well as queer characters. The powers that be at Archie have been working to make it clear that Riverdale is that ideal town that EVERYONE can be a part of.

RIP Jamey Rodemeyer

thedailywhat:

RIP: 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a victim of relentless anti-gay bullying, was found dead earlier this week of an apparent suicide.

“I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens,” Jamey wrote on his Tumblr blog in a post dated September 9th. “What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”

The bullying got particularly intense about twelve months ago, when classmates started leaving homophobic remarks on Jamey’s Formspring page. “JAMIE [sic] IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!,” read one of the many vicious comments.

Friends were always there to defend him, however, and Jamey himself even appeared to be taking the abuse in stride, contributing a video to Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project, in which he echos the words of Lady Gaga, telling other bullying victims to “hold [their] head up.”

Sadly, despite assuring his parents multiple times that everything was fine, all was not as it seemed. On Sunday, Jamey posted one final note on his Tumblr: “Thank you Lady Gaga.”

“He touched so many hearts, so many people,” Jamey mom Tracy’s told The Buffalo News. “I didn’t realize how many people he touched. He was the sweetest, kindest kid you’d ever know. He would give all his heart to you before he gave any to himself.”

As American servicemen and women across the globe celebrate the long-overdue demise of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Jamey’s untimely death offers a stark reminder that the struggle for tolerance is far from over.

Y-CARE: How to help Prevent Sucide from the Trevor Project

Talk to Me: Preparing for National Suicide Prevention Week

The Trevor Project says “Sure, it’s easier to text, poke, like, or IM. But talking tells us so much more.”  We want to invite you to participate in the Trevor Project’s Talk to Me campaign.  And, we want you to talk to us.  What would you like to see the We Got Your Back project do for National Suicide Prevention Week?  What will you be doing?

Including our rural family: What Can Coverage of the Earthquake Teach Us about the LGBT Movement?

Rev. Emily C. Health has written an important article on what the media coverage of today’s earthquake can teach us about classism and urban-centrism in the LGBTQ community.  Take a look at this excerpt and then read the rest of the article:

So what does this have to do with LGBT rights? On the surface not much. But as I sat watching coverage, I was struck by a familiar feeling that we were missing the heart of the story. I felt the same frustration that I often feel watching the LGBT movement when the people who are most affected by an injustice are ignored because they are not as convenient, or not as interesting, or not as big a contingent.

That’s not to say that what was happening in NYC was not important. It clearly was. Buildings were evacuated, fears were stirred, confusion ran high in a big city setting. Newsworthy to be sure. But sort of missing the point. The coverage in DC made more sense given the proximity to the epicenter, but the absolute focus on NYC just seemed odd.

We do that in the LGBT movement a lot. We forget, for example, that we don’t all live in the big cities, and that the day to day life of LGBT folks in rural America is often far more harrowing than that of their big city counterparts.

Open Discussion: Glee and Intersectionality

There’s something hard not to love about Ryan Murphy’s Glee.  Glee has been praised for its portrayal of underdog high school heroes, especially Kurt Hummel, a gay teenager.   Nevertheless, Glee has broken its hearts along the way.  Here are a few of criticisms of Glee:

- In “When will Glee stop Ignoring Race?” Racialious examines the character  Merceades.  Racialious writes that Glee treats “black female characters in the way they are always treated–as hook singers, as comic relief, as funny sidekicks, as advice givers, as checks on the inclusiveness scorecard, but never as fully-actualized human beings.”

- Glee writers have avoided mentioning trans issues or developing a trans character.  In fact, they miss go out of their way to avoid trans people.  In Glee’s tribute to Rocky Horror, they change the lyrics of “Sweet Transvestite” to “fabulous Transylvania”. When preforming Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way,” the Glee kids didn’t perform the line that mentioned in trangender people.  Instead, they perform what is probably Gaga’s most offensive line of all time: “No matter black, white, or beige, chola, or Orient-made, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to be brave.”  Orient-made?  Really?  Why edit out trans people but focus on such questionable lyrics?  Unfortunately, when  The Bilerco Project blogged about this incident, they too overlook the racism of Gaga’s lyrics and focus on “lgbtq exclusion.”  Curiouser and curiouser.

The Born this Way incident may illustrate the heart of Glee’s problem: Glee likes to keep things simple.  Glee writers have been reluctant to really explore the intersection of oppressions.  As a result, Glee’s characters can be one dimensional at best and stereotypes at worse.

What do you think?  Where has Glee succeeded?  Where has it fallen short?  What could it do to improve?

WGYB Project is still alive…

Hi all!

Just a note to let you know that We Got Your Back Project is alive and still seeking submissions for posting. Just because the issue of LGBTQIA youth suicides and bullying is not the top news story of the moment doesn’t mean our youth aren’t still in need of people who’ve got their back.

Submission guidelines are below. If you come across something you think would be good for posting, please email us at wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com or tweet at us WGYBProject on Twitter.

Thanks for your interest in contributing to the “We Got Your Back” Project!  We are accepting videos and written statements that share how the lives of LGBTQIA people get better when we have each others back.  Give some hope to LGBTQIA youth by telling them how your own life improved.  To submit, send an email to wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com  We request that posts meet the following guidelines:

Videos: Please keep videos to no more than 8 minutes maximum. If you have a video on YouTube or Vimeo, please submit a link to the video and a brief description.

Length: 2,500 word maximum. (Please note, longer posts may be broken up into several posts on the project)

Language: Feel free to use adult language, however please warn for swearing or other adult and/or potentially triggering language in your post at the beginning. If you do share potentially triggering material, we ask that you use the “more” tag to put it behind a cut.

Permission to repost/share your content: Please indicate to us whether or not you consent to the sharing of your material outside of this project when you submit your post and/or video.

Camp Ten Trees Information

Camp Ten Trees is a Seattle resource for LGBT youth and their families shared with us via Bridget Adams.Here’s her post from 11 March about them. Please visit their site and if you are in Seattle, please consider helping out.

Remember a few months ago, everyone was concerned about LGBTQ youth? We all wore purple, changed our Facebook statuses and patted ourselves on the back…and then went back to our lives with the next news cycle. Except, guess what Poppets? LGBTQ youth are still out there. They are still trying to figure it all out and it’s not necessarily any easier now than it was six months ago.
Luckily, not everyone moved on with the next news cycle. Enter Camp Ten Trees, headquartered out of our very own Seattle. And let me tell you – this is one freaking cool camp. What drew me to their website was an event they are having next month and I promise I will tell you about it (because trust me, you really want to hear about it) but first I have to say that every tab I clicked, every link I followed, took my breath away. For eleven years now, they have been committed to LGBTQ youth and are still the only residential camp in the Pacific Northwest serving the community. Not only do they have a week-long camp for LGBTQ teens, but they also offer another week for youth, ages 8-17, of any orientation, from LGBT and/or nontraditional families.
They offer traditional outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and sports. They also offer performance opportunities and community projects. However, underneath the fun surface, the camp’s values of inclusivity, safety and acceptance permeate all the adventures. These values are so important to Camp Ten Trees that, while the rates for camp are reasonable to begin with, they also have a sliding scale and camperships for families that need some assistance footing the bill.
All of which is wonderful and exciting, assuming you are, or have, a child or teenager. But what about the rest of us, who are – be honest – a little past our 18th birthdays? There’s fun for us, too. Next month, on April 23rd, at Herban Feast, 3200 1st Avenue S., Ste. 100, in Seattle, at 6:00 PM, the camp is holding its annual dinner and auction. For $55.00, you get an amazing dinner and access to the silent auction. Add another $20.00 and you get the open bar, instead of having to pay cash. If you really feel like splurging on a great night out for an even better cause, $125.00 will get you a VIP ticket: pre-event reception, open bar all evening, first crack at the silent auction items, goodie bag, raffle ticket, and dinner.
Don’t worry if you’re busy on the 23rd, though. You can still help. Not only are they still accepting donations for the auction, but they accept donations, both financial and in-kind, for the camp year-round. The neatest part of the website, for me anyway, is the page where they tell you exactly what your money pays for. This is where you learn how much it costs to send a camper to Ten Trees for a week or run background checks on staff. Monetary donations can be made online. Auction donations can be arranged through the website. Contact Camp Ten Trees for information regarding in-kind donations, as their needs change so often. And if you happen to speak with Airen, tell him Bridget says hi.
Poppets, being a teenager wasn’t easy when we were kids. It’s certainly no easier now. Videos and purple shirts and Facebook statuses are fine. They make us feel good. But these folks at Camp Ten Trees…they are making a real difference, every day. Seems to me, the least we can do is enjoy a night out to help them. For more information, go to http://www.camptentrees.org/ or call 206-288-9568. It’s easier than finding a purple shirt and has a longer lasting impact.
Until next month, Poppets, take care of you – and each other.
c. Bridget Adams, 2011

Damian Furtch shares his experience of being a victim of anti-gay violence in NYC

Damian Furtch Shares His Story About Being a Victim of Anti-Gay Violence in New York City

Credit for story goes to GLAAD’s Website.

GLAAD sat down with Damian Furtch, the 26-year old who was violently attacked last Sunday in front of a West Village McDonald’s, for his first interview since the attack. Damian shares his story of what happened.

“My name is Damian Furtch, and I was violently attacked on March 27 by two men in the West Village. My friend and I were at the local McDonalds ordering food when I noticed two men staring at us. My friend and I ordered our food and waited for our order to be filled. I stepped outside to make a phone call in an effort to avoid the tension in the restaurant and remove myself from the situation.  The two gentlemen stepped out after me and asked if I had a problem. I told one of them that I had stepped out just to use the phone and had no problem with him or his three friends. Then, all of a sudden the second gentleman hit me on the right side of my face causing me to stumble. Then I felt three punches to the face.

After the attack, I stumbled back into the McDonald’s and told my friend that we needed to go to the hospital because I had been attacked. We then rushed to Roosevelt Hospital where I received medical attention.

The attack against me is part of the larger issue of violence against gay and transgender people in New York City.  While I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story, I hope to shed light on the larger issue of violence against my community. This has to stop. Under no circumstance should a person be attacked for their sexual orientation.

This has been a traumatic experience for me, my friends and my family.  I’d like to thank my close friends and family who have been supportive and loving through this situation.  I’d also like to thank City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office, the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit and the LGBT and ally community for their continued Facebook and e-mail support. It’s much appreciated and recognized.

GLAAD provided Damian with a media training and is also helping garner media attention around this particular incident and the larger issue of violence against the gay and transgender communities.

 

A special message from Gordon Roque

Gordon Roqué Is Gay

I’ve decided that if I am going to continue on as an artist and a musician, I need to do so on my own terms.

Sharing this video is a step in that direction .  . 

With additional information from Neo Prodigy:
It’s moments like this I’m truly proud to be a blogger. Because it is truly a humbling honor and a privilege to post the following:

Gordon Roque is a good personal friend of mine whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for the past few years. An amazing musician, his album Seahorses is available on iTunes and I highly recommend you all check it out. The only thing that surpasses his skill as a pianist and an artist, is the warmth and compassion of this extraordinary man. Which is why I was truly moved when he posted the above video on his site.

What many may not realize is that Gordon took a great risk (professional and even personal) in standing up to be counted. It goes without saying that countless LGBTQs are regularly met with bigotry and even violence. So to say this was a very brave decision is a mild understatement to say the least.

But in standing tall and being visible, Gordon serves a beacon of hope and inspiration for other LGBTQs who may be struggling with coming out. In addition, he provides visibility to not only Asian LGBTQs but queers of color in general who are often persecuted, marginalized and erased, especially in the gay community.

Make no mistake. This is a victory and it brings us one step closer to making equality and progress a reality for everyone.

You should definitely check out Gordon’s website and also drop him a line here and show him some love for the good and the awesome he’s done.

More on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell From Gender JUST

Lucky Mosqueda, Gender JUST leadership team member on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s Repeal:

“I’m not going to be happy about the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ because it’s just another example of the LGBT organizations spending time and money on issues that don’t make life better for my community. People living with AIDS can’t afford medication, people living in poverty don’t have food, people are still dying in wars—and our community is working to strengthen the U.S. war machine?”

Gender JUST is a Chicago organization led by queer youth of color.   And they’re my heroes.

 

DADT – Sorry, Transfolk

We at We Got Your Back hate to be a Debbie Downer, but there’s something that needs saying.  As historic a moment as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tells repeal may be, our community needs to remember that its repeal still leaves out trans-people.  For some thoughts about that aspect of today’s news, take a look at Autumn’s great post on this blog: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/18282/from-the-official-ceremonyanticipating-viewing-the-signing-into-law-of-the-dadt-bill

Let’s take today to celebrate what’s worth celebrating while remember the need to build a LGBTQ movement that includes our entire community and work towards a world where war and heterosexism are history.

The Force is With You, Katie, ‘Cause We Got Your Back

You may have heard about Katie.  She’s that adorable little girl who was teased at school because she likes Star Wars – and Star Wars “isn’t for girls.”  When I read Katie’s story, I teared up just a little bit.   I’ll admit, I got a little miffed on behalf of Princess Leia and my man Yoda.   But that’s not what upset me. I think I have a pretty good idea of what Katie must have felt when her classmates told her that Star Wars isn’t for girls.  My entire life people have been telling me what’s for girls and what’s for boys.  The clothes I wear, the way I cut my hair, the people I love, and the movies I watch have been judged for their appropriateness for someone of my assigned gender.  As a queer person, what happened to Katie has happened me too.  And I can’t help but cry a little when I think of one more kid going through that.

But when I read the article “The ‘Force’ is With You, Katie!”, I started crying for a whole different reason.  This article tells the story of Star Wars fans who rallied around Katie.  They sent her encouraging messages and Star Wars clothes that fit girls and donated Star Wars toys to other kids in her honor.  Thanks to these geeks, Katie’s awesome mom, and a school that’s taking bullying more seriously, Katie is getting the message that it’s okay to be who she is and that there are a lot of people  standing with her.

Of the Star Wars fans who supported Katie, Katie’s mom writes: “What strikes me is how these individuals who were once so isolated are now part of a very tight community.  They have found each other; they are plugged into each other, and they have each other’s backs. Now they have Katie’s back, too.”

That, my friends, is what we’ve got to do. This story is a wonderful example of the sort of movement we have to build – a movement against bullying and oppression that goes beyond words into action

My fellow star Wars fans, I’ve never been more proud.

FCK Bullies!

Clowny Princess takes us on a tour

of the gay-centric hub of her home town.

Brandon Bitner: Anti-gay bullying leads to another tragic teen suicide

Brandon Bitner

MIDDLEBURG, Penn. — Anti-gay bullying has reportedly claimed another teen life.

Brandon Bitner, 14, of Mount Pleasant Mills, Penn., walked 13 miles from his home early Friday morning to a busy intersection and threw himself in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer after leaving a suicide note at his home, according to The Daily Item.

There seems to be little doubt in the students’ minds why Bitner did what he did.

“It was because of bullying,” friend Takara Jo Folk wrote in a letter to The Daily Item.

“It was not about race, or gender, but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which,” she said, “they wrongly accused him of.”

Brandon’s suicide note reportedly explained that he was constantly bullied at Midd-West High School in Middleburg, where he was a freshman.

Bullies allegedly called Brandon gay, girly, fag, and geek. He stated in the note that a humiliating event in school this past week was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Brandon was an accomplished violinist, having been a member of the Susquehanna Youth Orchestra in 2009.

His death came just days after an anti-bullying assembly at the high school, which, according to district Superintendent Wesley Knapp, was not held in response to any specific problems at the school, but because it is an issue Principal Cynthia Hutchinson has always felt strongly about.

After the assembly, according to student Briana Boyer in another letter to The Daily Item, “No one took it seriously, and joked around about it.”

Friends of Brandon have set up a Facebook page, “RIP Brandon Bitner.”

A memorial website is here, and the Patriot-News has Brandon’s obituary here.

it gets better (sometimes) – Alicia

Spoken Word: For Colored Boys that Speak Softly

It Doesn’t get Better – You Get Stronger