Category Archives: Lesbian

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

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.

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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

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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.

You are Loved…by Gennie Z

I guess you could say that I’m not your standard bullying victim. I’ve never been physically assaulted. I’ve been called names, but ‘fortunately’ that had nothing to do with my sexual preferences. As far as bullying goes, I’ve been lucky.

I wasn’t attacked. I was invisible.

I had a few friends growing up in elementary and middle school that I could spend time with. In high school I discovered the music department, and made friends with some of the other ‘music geeks’, though at times it seemed they were just tolerating my presence because they felt sorry for me. I later switched to another high school, where I was an outcast because I was quiet, shy, and a good student. I spent my lunch breaks sitting on a bench in the sun, wearing sunglasses and pretending to be asleep because it was better than being rejected, than admitting that I was lonely.

Most bullying is acknowledged as physical and verbal abuse. But often people forget the emotional bullying, which leads to mental abuse. No, I wasn’t attacked. But the isolation, the loneliness, began to make me think that there was something wrong with me. That something about who I was, was simply unlikeable. My confidence and self-esteem plummeted, and I stayed shy and quiet, trying to stay out of the way of people who were more important than me. Because clearly, I wasn’t someone worth knowing. It was better for me to stand back and let the people who were right, and strong, and good take the spotlight.

That wasn’t to say I was always miserable. I was happy with the few friends I had, to the point of being clingy. When I was happy, I threw myself into the feeling, desperate to hold on to it. Which made the days when I was lonely, sad, and miserable, even worse.

As I hit my mid-teens, things started to get complicated. My friends and family began to make comments about my sexual preferences, hinting that they thought I was gay. I wasn’t very feminine as a teenager, because I didn’t know how to be. And something about that made the people who were important to me, as well as the people who weren’t, believe that I was hiding my interests.

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High School sucked … by Erin

I went to a school in the exurbs of Detroit (for those who know the area Northwest Oakland County), one of schools that is a selling point for the nice houses in the newly sprouted subdivisions.  It was one of those schools that even offered a variety of support groups for kids who  may have had various problems.  It should have been a great place for a kid with some of the “issues” I had (new girl, introvert, depression, queer). My junior year was miserable, but my senior year, I started to pull my self together and started to be more out publicly, and then there were problems…

The first problem was when the student newspaper was going to do a story on the queer students at WLC, and I was expressly forbidden to use my real name during the interview; because, I might not really be gay (besides, I don’t look like a gay),  and the school doesn’t want to be responsible for me if I come out.

I don’t listen very well, so I came out in other ways than in a HS newspaper. I came out in AP English, I told people at lunch, I called people on their hetero-sexist bullshit. And it caused problems…leading to a moment where I was walking the gauntlet of junior and senior guys (aka the hallway to get from English to US Government)  and a group of guys circled round and told me how they were going to “make me straight”. I was rescued by a sympathetic teacher, but when I sought to have the problem addressed. The school councilor told me because she didn’t think I was really a lesbian, the guys who threatened my safety in school were completely unpunished.

The Safe School Improvement Act of 2010 should be passed, so that kids can feel safe going from English to US Government. So that don’t have their identity invalidated by a school professional. And so things are actually made better for kids now; rather than telling kids it might get better later.

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.

Ann’s story

For a long time (over 10 years), my historical narrative skipped from
fall of 1997 to fall of 1998 (fall of 8th grade to fall of 9th grade,
for reference). Spring of 1998, the concluding term of my 8th grade
year, didn’t happen. I did not think about it, I did not care to
remember anything that happened that semester, I actively refused to
admit that it existed.

I was a weird kid, I admit that: awkward, too shy for my own good (and
social-wellbeing), ugly and skinny-chubby in that A Rush of Estrogen
to the Hips kind of way, and, worst of all, admittedly naive with my
own sexuality… not to mention the sexual temperature of the average
American eighth grader. I knew the words they were using when they
called me “lesbo” and “homo”, and I knew they were “scary”, but I
didn’t know why they were so very wrong.
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Another Life Lost

19Year Old Former Howard Univ Student Aiyisha Hassan Commits Suicide

Very unfortunate news to report as yet another LGBT teen has ended their life. Nineteen-year-old Aiyisha Hassan, a lesbian former Howard University student, took her own life last Tuesday in California.

2010_10_12_AIYISHA_HASSAN2 Hassan becomes at least the seventh LGBT teen to commit suicide in the past five weeks. She also becomes the second Black LGBT teen to commit suicide in the past two weeks.

Aiyisha Hassan attended Howard University from 2008 to 2009. Students at the historically black university organized a candlelight vigil for Aiyisha Hassan on Thursday night, reports The Hilltop and MetroWeekly. Reports suggest the former HU student was struggling with her sexuality.

“She was having a lot of trouble with a lot of different things, but mainly her sexual identity and just trying to express that,” says 21-year-old Lauren Morris, a fourth-year student. Morris says she introduced Hassan to Howard’s LGBT student group, and both attended meetings.

There are few details on Aiyisha Hassan’s suicide. Services will be held Wednesday, October 13 in Los Angeles at the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Will this ever end? Will there ever be hope for young people such as Aiyisha Hassan, Raymond Chase and Tyler Clementi?

A few points need to be made -A Letter to the at-risk LGBTQ Teens out there, from Neo Prodigy

My friend blogger Neo Prodigy wrote the following letter to LGBTQ Youth, with some very good tips, advice and resources.I’m going to sticky it as a page, but this needs to be out there, reposted and co-signed unto infinity.

Link to the original post is here

With that being said, the following is advice I would give to at risk LGBTQ teens out there. It’s also a letter I would’ve written to myself as a teen. Much of what I say may shock you, much of what I say may disturb you. But this is the real talk that manifested from my experience and the experience of countless others. So I make no apologies. For those of you reading this. Your mileage may vary. Take what you can utilize and disregard the rest.

1. Stay In The Closet.

If you think for one second that your family is going to flip their shit, if you think for one second that your life is about to be made a living hell, then don’t tell anyone. This isn’t about pride. This is about survival. You know who you are and you have nothing to prove. You are not under any obligation to disclose who you are. No, you are not lying or being deceitful. It’s not lying if people only force you to see their truths.You do what you have to do to stay alive. Bide your time until you can be out and open and free to be you.

But what if I’m out? Or people think I’m out? I’ll get to that.

2. There Is Nothing Wrong With You

You’re not a deviant, a pervert, a sinner, a child molester, or die of AIDS, or whatever the hell else you’ve been told. You’re as who God intended you to be. You’re not the one that needs to be fixed. It’s those who are uncomfortable and psychotic about the fact that your orientation doesn’t fall within their purview who needs to be corrected. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.

3. Talk To Someone

It’s okay to ask for help. There are hotline numbers and I know firsthand that it’s often easier to open up to a stranger than it is someone you know.

4. Resources Are Available

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
http://www.matthewshepard.org/
http://cypheroftyr.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/868/

Media You Should Also Check Out:

Bang Bang You’re Dead
Save Me
The Sensei
Hero

5. You Are Not Weak

You live in a world that hates your very existence. Surviving each day is an accomplishment in itself. Don’t ever think that you’re less than anyone else for having to endure homophobia or because it wears on you. You keep your head up and no you’re stronger than you think.

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