Category Archives: Community

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

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

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.

Reteaching Gender and Sexuality – Put This On The Map

Our current project, Reteaching Gender & Sexuality, is a message about queer youth action and resilience. The video was generated to contribute additional queer/trans youth voices to the national conversations about queer/trans youth lives. Reteaching Gender & Sexuality intends to steer the conversation beyond the symptom of bullying, to consider systemic issues and deeper beliefs about gender and sexuality that impact queer youth. We invite you to share the video with your friends, family and networks; we invite you to share with us what THIS issue means to you!

PUT THIS ON THE {MAP} is reteaching gender and sexuality to professionals, such as school administrators, social workers, health care providers and juvenile probation staff. With youth voices at the forefront, our team of educators use dynamic, relevant and informative professional development trainings and workshops to shift the conversation about gender and sexuality in our communities. Find out more on this site about our award-winning pilot documentary, our upcoming tour, and our professional development work.



Our 2011 Spring Tour is officially over! From North Bay to Nashville, Buffalo to Big Rapids – we met amazing people and heard about projects happening all over the U.S. and Canada.

We’re now planning a Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 Tour. Contact us if you are interesting in planning a stop on your campus or in your community! We can screen our first pilot documentary PUT THIS ON THE {MAP},  lead workshops and panel discussions, and capture your stories.  On campuses, we’ve worked with departments, student clubs, research institutes, clinics, and centers. We also offer professional development training for practitioners and students working in human services or education.

If you are interested in learning more about bringing Reteaching Gender and Sexuality to your town, contact: info@putthisonthemap.org

.


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.

A Sports Executive Leaves the Safety of His Shadow Life – Repost from the NYT

Joshua Lott for The New York Times

Rick Welts, the president of the Phoenix Suns, hopes his coming out can break the silence surrounding homosexuality in men’s team sports.

By
Published: May 15, 2011

Last month, in a Midtown office adorned with sports memorabilia, two longtime friends met for a private talk. David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, sipped his morning coffee, expecting to be asked for career advice. Across from him sat Rick Welts, the president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, who had come to New York not to discuss careers, but to say, finally, I am gay.

It’s OK to be Takei!

Actor George Takei has an excellent response to the idiotic bill in Tennessee prohibiting people from saying the word Gay.

Support George! Fight back at http://bit.ly/dontsaygay

George Takei takes on the Tennessee Legislature and its “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in the way only George Takei can!

A bill now pending in Tennessee would prohibit teachers in that state from discussing homosexuality in the classroom. The so-called “don’t say gay” law is premised on the misguided belief that, by not talking about gay people, they can simply make us disappear.

George is here to tell Tennessee, and all the LGBT youth and teachers who would be affected by this law, that he is here for you. In fact, he is lending his name to the cause. Any time you need to say the word “gay,” you can simply say “Takei.”

You can buy T-shirts and other items that say “It’s OK to be Takei”, to wear and display with pride and to show Tennessee and the world that you’re against censorship and bigotry….

All the proceeds from the sales of these items will be donated to charity. Have a TAKEI old time!

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

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,000 times in 2010. That’s about 17 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 54 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1,000kb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 22nd with 487 views. The most popular post that day was About The Project.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, networkedblogs.com, community.livejournal.com, theatlantic.com, and cypheroftyr.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for spirit day october 20, we got your back, october 20 spirit day, we got your back project, and october 20, 2010 wear purple.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About The Project September 2010
3 comments

2

Spirit Day – October 20, 2010 October 2010

3

Call for Submissions September 2010
2 comments

4

For Straight Allies September 2010

5

How to Share Your Story September 2010

Perry Moore Interview – Dennis R. Upkins

Perry Moore is a modern-day superhero, though he’ll never admit to it.

In fact, he will try to convince you that he’s only human like the rest of us. But what’s a superhero without a secret identity? To the astute observer, it’s not that much of a stretch. With a square jaw, tousled blond hair, and an athletic build, the handsome Virginian resembles one of the larger-than-life characters right out of the pages of a comic book. It’s no wonder that he was voted People’s Sexiest Man of the Week.

More than that, his career has proven to be an ever-growing vitae of inhuman feats. From interning for President Bill Clinton, to working on the development team for MTV and VH1 and later on the original production team of the Rosie O’Donnell Show, before joining Walden Media where Moore’s been credited as being one of the key forces behind procuring the rights to The Chronicle of Narnia films as an executive producer. Like any hero, Moore volunteers. He regularly teaches other to read at a local community center.

But arguably his greatest accomplishment to date is inspiring a new generation of fans with the critically acclaimed, Lambda award-winning novel, Hero: the coming of age tale about a fledgling teenage superhero who happens to be gay. An important distinction, Moore notes.

“My entire identity isn’t wrapped around being gay. I don’t know anyone’s whose entire identity is based on being gay or straight or black or white.”

Moore’s imaginative, genuine and unapologetically honest style has struck a chord with a wide audience and has garnered praise from literary and celebrity peers Lloyd Alexander, Rachel Ray, James Howe, and Gail Simone.

“In any creative field, nothing worthwhile is created without passion, and Perry Moore has more passion for what he creates and believes in than anyone I know,” Simone says. “Fortunately, he has the talent to back it up.”

It’s Friday afternoon and Moore has just returned from Australia. However he’s been under the weather for the past few days as he’s recovering from a severe case of strep throat. While this would sideline most mortal men, an immensely eager and animated Moore is raring to go.

“I promise I am ready to give the most awesome and best interview ever,” he reassures. “And if you think I’m full of energy now. Imagine what I’m like when I’m completely healthy.”
Continue reading

Show your face – A Message from UW Madison

GetEqual Youth response to President Obama’s message to lgbt youth

Watch: Anti-Gay Bullied Teens GetEQUAL Message To Obama, Congress

by David Badash on October 26, 2010 · Comments (0)

in Civil Rights,Gay Agenda,Legal Issues,Legislation,Marriage,Media,News,Politics

Post image for Watch: Anti-Gay Bullied Teens GetEQUAL Message To Obama, Congress GetEQUAL co-founder Robin McGehee reached out to three icons of gay teen activism, Ceara Sturgis, Constance McMillen, and Will Phillips, all of whom found themselves victims of anti-gay bullying and harassment, and brought them together to make this video message to President Obama and Congress. It’s stunning, heartwarming, and simple: “Display the courageousness that these youth have shown by producing the change they have promised.”

Thank you!

A big thanks to everyone who came out tonight to our launch event and video shoot extravaganza! Thank you to everyone who’s contributed so far, please read the posts and view the videos contributed so far.

Thank you again to our wonderful host, Fard M. Thank you for your hospitality and for letting us your space to record videos this evening. As a reminder, we can’t do this without YOUR stories folks. We’ve gotten some great stories but we need them to keep coming in.

Please send your posts or video links to us at wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com

Look for the video recorded tonight to be up on the site soon.

“Trans-nationality”

I am multiethnic and transgendered. I am the human label-breaker.

I grew up hearing that I’m half Japanese and half Jewish. For the
observer, this genetic algebra equated to a whole person. I wasn’t put
in a box- I was sliced in half; subdivided and subjugated. In truth I
carry twice the heritage and just as much angst.

In life, I check the box marked [other].

I am a gender-ninja, hiding in plain-sight. The Japanese American
community isn’t one that is particularly open to talking about…
anything. Because of this, I have never come out in public. It’s not
that everyone in the community is closed-minded. Culturally, it is
seen as intrusive to either ask or tell something so personal about
yourself. Though frustrating, it afforded me the room to grow.

My cultural heritage taught me the importance of community and the
bravery to stand up in the face of ignorance and hate. It is a comfort
to know that wherever my journey takes me or how dark it becomes, I
belong to something bigger. My ethnic identity helped to build a
foundation upon which to discover myself. What I developed was the
resolve to self-advocate; to believe that a world without me, my
perspective and my voice, would result in even more generations of
We,the lost children of a Black and White, Male and Female, straight
and narrow world.

Be you. Be us. Be free. I’ve got your back.

-Anonymous

A look at the lives of gay teens – Article from NPR

With the recent group of suicides by gay teens, we a take a look at the lives of gay teenagers. NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to Ritch Savin Williams, a professor of developmental psychology at Cornell University. He specializes in gay, lesbian, and bisexual research, and his latest book is The New Gay Teenager.

Listen to the program here. [4min 43sec] Transcript after the cut

Continue reading

Discussion – Do Churches contribute to gay suicides?

Time for a bit of discussion. Fresh from the CNN Belief blog, the question is raised:

Do Churches contribute to Gay Suicide? An overwhelming number of Americans believe that the church does contribute to lgbt suicides.

The article is after the cut for those that would like to read it. Please join us on the facebook page for continued discussion on the topic. Remember to keep it civil folks.

Continue reading

A message from our President

Yes, it was posted to the It Gets Better Project, but hearing a positive message from our POTUS transcends the original intent. Thank you Mr. President for speaking up on this issue.

Bullying and the 105% (reposted with permission from rm on LJ)

bullying and the 105%
Bullying happens for lots of reasons.

These include:
- bullies choosing to bully.
- cycles of abuse.
- biological impulses towards hierarchy.
- cultural glorification of violence.
- cultural shaming of various traits and interests.
- adults who look the other way.
- childhood and adult fears about identity and fitting in.
- features that people who are bullied can’t change.
- features that people who are bullied shouldn’t be asked to change.
- features that it may be reasonable to suggest people who are bullied address.

But when I was bullied as a kid, and prank calls came to my house calling a “cock-sucking whore,” let me tell you the right response, when I was TWELVE and at an all-girls school, was not for my father to ask me what I had done to deserve this.
*
I’m one of those people who tries hard to live life at 105%. I realize that’s a privilege to a given degree, but I do also think — perhaps wrongly and ruthlessly — that everyone’s always got another tiny, extra sliver of fucking effort to give.

But it’s not a damn obligation.

And while I am also always about strategy and pragmatism and survival, because those are my choices and my nature, victim-blaming is always wrong.

Which is why I find this post from [info]theferrett upsetting. And his response to my (very possibly distressing for many) comment even more so.
*
I have made the choice, more literally than most people, over and over again, not to change my name, not to change my face, and not to run away from home.

Would you like me better if I was named Heather? How about Aleksandra? Andrea? Jenny? When I joined SAG, I thought long and hard about these things, and it was a terrible moment. Look, it’s my actual job to make people like me.

You know who doesn’t have that job? Some random eight-year-old who isn’t beautiful, who has “weird” interests, who’s a different race than her classmates, who has non-gender confirming hobbies, who’s too smart, who has a difficult home life, who lives with a disability, etc., etc., etc.

So don’t fucking tell me I didn’t work hard enough not to be bullied. Or that I should have just worn a pretty dress. Or not been sick. Or tried not to learn things. Or made my parents name me something else.

I lived. That was, in this regard, all the work I was ever supposed to have to do.

Apologetics – Neo Prodigy

This was contributed by Neo Prodigy, originally posted in 2005 in his LiveJournal.

The following is my response to KC’s letter. A significant portion of the information and research I used in my reply is courtesy of cmpriest. Mad props to her and her immeasurable brilliance. Hopefully I did it justice. Hopefully I did good.

Dear Denny,

Hey, I know that I can’t talk you out of your delightlful lifestyle, but please don’t give real Catholics, ones who believe what the Church teaches, a bad name. If there is a classification for Pagan, I would suggest that is more appropriate.
This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2357 … Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to CHASTITY. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

[I think you have at least 3 of these 4]

2396 Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography, and homosexual practices.

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

Continue reading

A message from Jamie

Originally submitted for the It Gets Better Project, Jamie shared his video for We Got Your Back.

Thank you for sharing your story!

David Urqhart

Mr. Urqhart shared this video with us, originally done for the IDAHO exhibit in Sydney, Australia earlier in the year.

 

Thank you again for sharing this video David.

Have something to say?

We hope so! We have a discussion board at our Facebook page. We encourage dialog, new topics, as well as questions and issues you may have with the Project.

Please join us at the discussion board and talk about homelessness as an LGBTQ youth issue.

Please post new topics and join the discussion!