Category Archives: Youth suicides

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.

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.

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.

What is wrong with this world? Another young life gone too soon.

Second gay teen this month takes his life — another case of anti-gay bullying

LGBTQ Nation • Thursday, October 21, 2010 • Comments (3)

Teen suicides within the LGBT community continue at an alarming rate — todayLGBTQ Nation has learned of another recent victim of anti-gay bullying.

Terrel Williams

Terrel Williams, a 17-year-old native of Beverly Hills, CA, took his life on October 13, just hours after being attacked by five other high school students, and pushed and thrown into a brick wall at Clover Park High School in Lakewood, WA.

Terrel’s mother, Cheryl Williams, found her son in their Lakewood home — he had hanged himself in his bedroom closet. Terrel left a suicide note:

“I’m sorry to my immediate loved ones, but I feel suicide is the only way out. I felt coming out, and being happy with Daric, was the best thing I could’ve ever done. But I didn’t think it would lead to my death at an early age.

“Today, was the record worst day of my life, some kids at school stole some of my stuff that I got from people I really cared about, and that really pushed me over the top, next to being shoved into a wall, and my ribs being broken.”

Terrel’s boyfriend, Daric Rawr, told LGBTQ Nation that following the incident on Oct. 13, Terrel had to be picked up and brought home from school. Daric said he was unaware of the attack and was on his way to Terrel’s home to attend a family dinner when Terrel’s mother called to tell him she had found her son hanging in his closet.

In a statement posted on Terrel’s Twitter page on Wednesday, Cheryl Williams wrote:

My son meant the world, and high school bullies pushed him over the edge. I hope and pray, that no other child ever has to go through what he did. Bullying isn’t worth it. Why can’t people just be nice?

This Saturday would have been Terrel’s 18th birthday, and the 7th anniversary of Terrel’s and Daric’s relationship.

The boys met and became friends when they were 10 and 9 years old, respectively. “We began as play dates, like anybody else would, and as we got older into the teen years, his parents allowed us to give dating a shot,” said Daric, who is now 16 years old.

“Terrel was a compassionate, fun loving, outgoing person who enjoyed life to the fullest,” said Daric.

“He loved life, but felt the need to take it, because [the bullying] didn’t stop … respectful, whole hearted people like Terrel, and the growing number of others, shouldn’t have to feel suicide is the answer, because bullies won’t stop.”

To date, there has not been any formal action yet from the school district in regards to the bullying incident.

On September 31, Terrel suffered a gunshot wound to the chest while visiting New York City in what appeared to be an attempted mugging.

Terrel’s death is the second reported suicide this month among gay teens, and follows an epidemic of LGBT suicides reported in the past 6 weeks. In September, at least 6 teens teens committed suicide as a result of anti-gay bullying and intolerance.

Yesterday we reported that 19-year-old Corey Jackson, of Warren, MI, was found in a wooded area of the Oakland University campus in Rochester, MI. The Oakland County medical examiner confirmed Corey’s death was also a suicide by hanging.

 

When will it end?

Mich. Gay College Student Kills Himself

By Advocate.com Editors

COREY JACKSON X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COM

A 19-year-old Oakland University sophomore took his own life Tuesday, a few months after telling his family and friends he was gay.

Family members of Corey Jackson say they believe the Rochester Hills, Mich., college student had been bullied over his sexual orientation, and it ultimately led him to commit suicide.

“I believe [it happened] because he recently realized he was a homosexual and he was getting pressured at school by his peers because he told his family and nothing changed here,” his grandmother Carolyn Evans told Click On Detroit. “Corey was the most loving, giving, funny person. He had the most wonderful personality. He had cousins from ages 14 down to 2 and he never said a bad word about anybody. When he went to school and he realized his sexual preference had changed, he changed completely. He withdrew.”

Oakland University president Gary Russi said in an e-mail to students that Jackson’s death “diminishes us all.”

“In our mourning, I am hopeful that we will not focus on the manner of Corey’s death, but rather celebrate the life he lived and the people he touched,” Russi wrote.

Students organized a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to honor Jackson. The president Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, of which Jackson was a member, wore a purple shirt Wednesday in remembrance of Jackson and in support of ending bullying of LGBT teens.

Police are still investigating Jackson’s death, but the Oakland County medical examiner’s office confirmed that it had been ruled a suicide.

Yet another loss… (article courtesy of the Michigan Messenger)

Gay Oakland University student found dead of suicide on campus

By Todd A. Heywood 10/20/10 4:45 PM Digg Tweet

The Oakland University community in southeast Michigan is mourning the loss of one of its own.

Local officials report the body of 19-year-old Corey Jackson was found in a wooded area of the campus. Police and the medical examiner’s office tell the Oakland Press the young gay man hung himself.

The suicide happened Tuesday night, as activists across the nation were preparing for a Facebook driven day of activism to counter a wave of suicides of young gay people across the country that have been tied to bullying. Wednesday was dubbed Spirit Day by the Facebook plans, and was designed to draw attention to the suicides by encouraging people to wear purple.

Police say there is no indication bullying was a factor in Jackson’s suicide.

And while bullying may not be a factor, Melissa Pope, director of the university’s Gender and Sexuality Center said the issue points to larger, hidden epidemic of suicides among LGBT youth.

Continue reading

Gay Teen Endured a Daily Gauntlet

Gay teen endured a daily gantlet

As a gentle child grew into adolescence, the taunts and bullying intensified. Finally, Seth Walsh couldn’t take any more.

October 08, 2010|By Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times

When Seth Walsh came home from school, he would open the gate to a chain-link fence, walk beneath a tall red oak tree and be greeted by five dogs and two cats.

Seth lived with two brothers and a sister, four children from three fathers who were seldom around, supported by their mother who worked long hours as a hairdresser. Their home was a rental, a few blocks from Tehachapi’s main street.

He was 13, and in the eyes of his grandparents, Jim and Judy Walsh, he was just a normal kid, pushing into adolescence. They looked forward to watching him grow up and never imagined that the harassment he experienced as a gay teenager, or his suicide, would resonate across the country.

Seth’s mother, Wendy, is guarding her privacy, lost in grief, and his friends are keeping quiet at their parents’ instructions. Only Jim and Judy are willing to share their memories.

They want to make sure their grandson isn’t remembered only as “the gay kid who hung himself,” so they tell stories about a bright and precocious child who enjoyed playing with their dog, Bambi, and who liked the Jonas Brothers and Magic Mountain.

“When he smiled,” Jim says, “he smiled with his whole face. His eyes twinkled. It wasn’t just the smile. You got it from the eyes and the beaming of the face. He really meant that smile for you.”

Judy and Jim still laugh over his tastes. He colored his hair blond on occasion and wore it with a long swoop that partly covered his eyes. Judy took him shopping once, and he went to the girl’s department to find pants with tapered legs. He added a vest, and a few months later she noticed the style everywhere.

His favorite songs were Nat King Cole’s “Smile” and Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea,” and he listened to Mozart in the shower. His favorite stop in Bakersfield was Barnes & Noble; he liked James Herriot’s books about animals.

He was a gentle child, they say, who preferred to “relocate bugs” rather than kill them, who made sure his younger brother got his share of Easter eggs and who once apologized to a bed of flowers when he picked one and placed it on the grave of the family dog.

But the Walshes realize that Seth’s gentleness made him a target, and they recall listening to Wendy as she shared her worries about Seth and what he had to endure.

Continue reading

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?