|The following is from the president’s It Gets Better video.
Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives. As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country.
We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage — that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe forall of our kids. And to every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help.
I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart — I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself — for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.
But what I want to say is this. You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them, don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.
The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.
It will mean that you’ll be more likely to help fight discrimination — not just against LGBT Americans, but discrimination in all its forms. It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as adults we set an example in our own lives and that we treat everybody with respect. That we are able to see the world through other people’s eyes and stand in their shoes — that we never lose sight of what binds us together.
As a nation we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talents; to speak our minds; to not fit in; most of all, to be true to ourselves. That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about. And every day, it gets better.
Brian Bond: It Gets Better
By Brian Bond
The below blog post by White House Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement Brian Bond, which includes a video message from the President, is available at www.whitehouse.gov/itgetsbetter .
Recently, several young people have taken their own lives after being bullied for being gay — or perceived as being gay — by their peers. Their deaths are shocking and heartbreaking tragedies. No one should have to endure relentless harassment or tormenting. No one should ever feel so alone or desperate that they feel have nowhere to turn. We each share a responsibility to protect our young people. And we also have an obligation to set an example of respect and kindness, regardless of our differences.
We all have a responsibility to protect all of our children. But we also have an obligation to set an example of respect and kindness regardless of our differences.
This is personal to me. When I was a young adult, I faced the jokes and taunting that too many of our youth face today, and I considered suicide as a way out. But I was fortunate. One of my co-workers recognized that I was hurting, and I soon confided in her. She cared enough to push me to seek help. She saved my life. I will always be grateful for her compassion and support — the same compassion and support that so many kids need today.
In the wake of these terrible tragedies, thousands of Americans have come together to share their stories of hope and encouragement for LGBT youth who are struggling as part of the It Gets Better Project. Their messages are simple: no matter how difficult or hopeless life may seem when you’re a young person who’s been tormented by your peers or feels like you don’t fit in: life will get better.
President Obama is committed to ending bullying, harassment and discrimination in all its forms in our schools and communities. That’s why he recorded this message.
Last year, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services joined forces with four other departments to create a federal task force on bullying. In August 2010, the task force staged the first-ever National Bullying Summit, bringing together 150 top state, local, civic, and corporate leaders to begin mapping out a national plan to end bullying. The task force also launched a new website, www.bullyinginfo.org , which brings all the federal resources on bullying together in one place for the first time ever.
If you’re a young person who’s been bullied or harassed by your peers, or you’re a parent or teacher who knows a young person being bullied or harassed, here are a few resources that can help you:
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LBGTQ youth by providing resources and a nationwide, 24 hour hotline. If you are considering suicide or need help, call: 866-4-U-TREVOR ( 866-488-7386 ) .
BullyingInfo.org is a project of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs ( IWGYP ) focused on providing tools and resources for youth, parents, teachers and mental health providers to prevent and address bullying.
It Gets Better Project
President Obama’s video is just one of thousands of videos submitted by people across the country to inspire and encourage LGBT youth who are struggling. You can watch more videos at ItGetsBetterProject.com.
For even more information and resources visit:
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network ( GLSEN )
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ( PFLAG )
Brian Bond is Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement