Yesterday, Lady Gaga took a step toward making good on her promise to speak out against bullying, especially among school-aged youth, by announcing the planned launch of a new organization. She'll soon be heading up the Born This Way Foundation, an organization designed to derail the effects of bullying and bolster the self-confidence and self-image of youth.
The singer and media personality has been buzzing about the importance of tough anti-bullying policies across the country for the past several months, lobbying particularly hard on behalf of LGBT kids.
It looks like the Born This Way Foundation will have a broader focus, encompassing bullying in general as opposed to centering specifically on anti-LGBT bullying.
According to The Advocate:
The entertainer will use the title of her hit pro-LGBT anthem and best-selling album as the name of the non-profit that will focus on youth empowerment and "issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development."
Gaga will personally direct the foundation, along with and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta. "Together we hope to establish a standard of Bravery and Kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment," Gaga says in a statement.
The project is a collaboration between Gaga, her mother, and two partners: the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Neither partner is LGBT-specific either, but they seem to have extensive experience dealing with bullying's effect on youth interactions.
The Berkman Center's mission statement is:
The Berkman Center's mission is to explore and understand cyberspace; to study its development, dynamics, norms, and standards; and to assess the need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions.
We are a research center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and share.
The MacArthur Foundation wields a similar goal:
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.
But is another anti-bullying organization necessary? Two prominent national organizations deal primarily with outreach of an anti-LGBT bullying message - the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and The Trevor Project - and another general anti-bullying organization, PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, has been around for about five years.
What do you think, Projectors? Can Lady Gaga's organization do better? Are there structural problems with PACER or GLSEN or The Trevor Project that the Born This Way Foundation can avoid? Or would it have been more advantageous for Gaga to have put a spotlight on these already-existing organizations and bring national attention to their strengths?