LGBT youth suicides made headlines in September as anti-gay bullying drove a number of young teens to take their lives - including Seth Walsh, 13, in California; Asher Brown, 13, in Texas; and Billy Lucas, 15, in Indiana.
In response, columnist Dan Savage launched "It Gets Better," a video message to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth that life gets better after high school. The Make It Better Project takes this one step further, giving youth the tools they need to make their lives better now.
"School doesn't have to be horrible just because you're LGBT! Schools should be safe for everyone," said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network, who launched the project. "Through the Make It Better Project, youth and adults can work together to prevent suicide and make schools safer for LGBT youth right now. Go to www.MakeItBetterProject.org to learn how."
A Week of Action in support of the Make It Better Project will begin on October 5th, culminating in National Coming Out Day on October 11th. Make It Better events will take place around the country to remember the youth who have died, support LGBT students, and call on lawmakers to pass the federal Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. See a list of events for the Week of Action.
"LGBTQQ teenagers are dying at the hands of homophobia, and as National Coming Out Day approaches, it is time for all of us in the LGBTQQ and straight ally community to not just come out for ourselves but also come out for each other and especially for the youth who need us now more than ever," said Sean Chapin, one of the grassroots organizers of the Week of Action.
Several youth involved with the Make It Better Project will be on the Dr. Phil Show this Wednesday. They will discuss how they are working to prevent suicide and make their schools safer for LGBT students through Gay-Straight Alliance clubs.
"Starting a Gay-Straight Alliance is one of the best ways to let LGBT students at your school know that they are not alone," said Jeffree Merteuil-Clark, 17, a junior at Frontier High School. "Youth and adults can work together in your GSA to let bullies know that harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated at your school." Jeffree is President of his GSA in Bakersfield, just miles down the road from Tehachapi where Seth Walsh died on Tuesday.
The Make It Better Project is endorsed by: COLAGE, GroundSpark, Our Family Coalition, Safe Schools Coalition, San Francisco LGBT Center, TransActive, Transgender Law Center, and Youth Pride, Inc. (partial list).
I truly believe that if we can cure homophobia and transphobia we will save thousands of lives, and will one day discover our full equality. Please share the Make it Better Project widely on your social networks. You never know who you might touch, and whose heart might change.