Category Archives: News

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

News: Opportunity For Young Writers

Definitely wanted to boost the signal about the following: _____________________

We were alerted to this great project, and we wanted to make sure y’all knew about it!

From the press release:

“Award-winning author Lyndsey D’Arcangelo announced a national story call-out for her new groundbreaking anthology series, My Story Is Out: High School Years.

My Story Is Out: High School Years (MSIO) is intended to be a collection of personal real-life stories about surviving high school as an LGBT teen and coming out on the other side. “In working with LGBT youth through numerous writing workshops, I’ve discovered that they enjoy sharing their personal stories with each other,” said D’Arcangelo. “What better place to do that than an exciting new anthology series?”

The national story call-out for the anthology is open to straight, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgendered individuals 25 years old and younger. “We are looking for humorous, heart-warming, wistful and inspiring stories,” D’Arcangelo explained. “If you have a story to tell about your personal experience that is sure to touch the hearts, lives and souls of LGBT teens all over the world, then we would love to read it and consider it for publication.”

The MSIO anthology is being publishing by Publishing Syndicate and is slated for nationwide release in fall 2012. Those contributors whose stories make final publication will receive compensation. Story submission guidelines can be found at www.MyStoryIsOut.com.”

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!

MinnPost – Bullying of GLBT youth: Exploring answers to ‘Why now?’

MinnPost – Bullying of GLBT youth: Exploring answers to ‘Why now?’.

Bullying of GLBT youth: Exploring answers to ‘Why now?’

By Beth Hawkins | Published Mon, Oct 25 2010 10:29 am

Many, many questions have yet to end up with satisfactory answers in the recent spate of suicides of gay teens. Not least: Why now?

Why, in an era when gays and lesbians have gained so much acceptance, are GLBT teens still so much more vulnerable than their classmates? And why, despite having several decades to get up to speed on the issue, are schools still Ground Zero for this front in the culture war?

In the last year, seven teens attending Anoka-Hennepin Public Schools, Minnesota’s largest district with 40,000 students, have killed themselves. At least two were known to be gay, and critics have blamed the district’s controversial policy of “neutrality” in curriculum.

In July, 15-year-old Justin Aaberg killed himself in his bedroom in Andover. Aaberg was openly gay and had a very supportive mother who had no idea he was the target of frequent bullying.

It seems like such progress: A teen who is secure enough to come out to his family and friends and even date, according to some news reports. One would think Aaberg could have turned to any number of places for help when he found himself in crisis.

<– more..>

More high schoolers come out now
Phil Duran is general counsel for the gay-rights organization OutFront Minnesota. His answer to the “why now” question: Visibility.

“Twenty-five years ago, the issue didn’t get much attention,” said Duran. “No one really thought to be out in high school.”

In four states, gays and lesbians can now marry. More kids now come from families headed by same-sex couples. And the number of openly gay celebrities has exploded.

With all of this seeming normalcy, more kids feel it’s OK to come out — which is a good thing, Duran said. Except that as a society we haven’t dealt with lots of baggage from previous eras.

Suicide rates have always been higher among gay teens than straights. And thanks to a study done by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in the 1990s, we know that GLBT teens and overweight children are bullies’ most frequent targets.

Suicide, dropout rates high
Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts, according to the Department Health and Human Services. And 28 percent of gay students will drop out of school — more than three times the national average for heterosexual students.

At the same time, bullying on the whole has gotten worse. Kids used to at least be able to get away from their tormentors by going home at the end of the day. But cyberbullying [PDF] happens around the clock, and frequently in places where adults aren’t paying attention.

The problem is so bad, in fact, that some Minnesota lawmakers have called for a special session to address the issue. In the last session, Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed anti-bullying legislation.

Add to this complicated stew the fact that equality for gays and lesbians is possibly the most divisive issue in today’s culture wars, and you end up with a situation in which those gay teens must navigate some bizarre adult politics.

Confusion about policy
Future Learning Curve blog posts will take more thorough looks at various aspects of the sprawling controversy, but the abbreviated version of what happened in Anoka-Hennepin is that the district attempted to respond to the concerns of community conservatives by implementing a policy mandating curriculum be “neutral” on matters of sexual orientation.

“It took a year and a half for Anoka-Hennepin to tell staff what it meant,” said Durant. “In that time there was confusion about what the adults could and couldn’t do.”

He and other critics say staff were given little guidance on how to interpret the rule, creating, in effect, a situation where anytime a student’s sexual orientation came up the adults in the room took two steps back.

District administrators have since clarified the policy: Curriculum must remain neutral, but intervention is warranted on behalf of any student who reports bullying of any kind, and when teachers and others learn that a student is struggling with his or her sexuality or any other issue, they should act to help the student find appropriate resources.

An avalanche of comments
Just that clarification has stirred a political hornet’s nest. Anoka administrators are struggling to deal with an avalanche of angry calls and e-mails from people on both sides of the issues. Superintendent Dennis Carlson was even contacted by the U.S. Justice Department earlier this fall about the possibility of community-wide mediation; Carlson is interested, but the feds have yet to follow through, according to his office.

The grownups had better get their acts together, said Durant, because teens will continue to leave the closet and will continue to struggle as a result. Thorny issues are already showing up at far earlier ages than ever anticipated: “More and more elementary students will now talk about a transgender experience,” he said.

“Ultimately what needs to happen is there needs to be an engagement of students and families when they start kindergarten: ‘This is how we treat people,’ ” Duran said. “You can’t train kids to like the person next to them. But you can say ‘This is the code of conduct.’ “