“It gets better.” These words are a necessity for every child and/or teenager feeling bullied, isolated, depressed or who is thinking about ending his or her life. These words were the inspiration for the It Gets Better Project started by Dan Savage, a political gay activist, and his husband Terry Miller. The objective of the project is to help save lives by reaching out to LGBT teens who can’t see a future for themselves; let alone a future full of amazing possibilities.
Through the It Gets Better Project adults in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi and trans) community have been sharing their life experiences (through You Tube) with teens struggling with their own sexuality and all of the intolerance and ignorance that unfortunately can come along with it. (As if growing up wasn’t hard enough.) The words that are repeated and reinforced in all of the videos are that no matter what hardships you are facing today – life will get better. No matter how bad your situation is today- it is temporary.
There is so much love and life to live. This message of love and hope has reached hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and straight people all over the world.
Information From www.itgetsbetter.org :
Dan heard about the suicides of Justin Aaberg and Billy Lucas and had a reaction so many LGBT adults had. “I wish I could’ve talked to that kid for five minutes before he killed himself,” Dan recently said. “I’d tell him that however bad it was in high school or middle school…it gets better.” The It Gets Better Project was born.
In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.
Two months later, the It Gets Better Project (TM) has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities…The website www.itgetsbetter.org is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It’s a place where our straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members. It’s a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support, and seek help through the Trevor Project( a project determined to end suicide among LGBT youth) and GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.)
Here are some reasons why this project impacts you:
1. Even if you do not think you teach kids that are in need of the information available from this project; you probably do. You just might not know it. You might have a child that doesn’t appear to feel isolated or alone and when that child reaches out to you can be prepared with 3 simple words “it gets better.” You don’t have to be a part of the LGBT community for those words to make an impact. Kids in all sorts of turmoil need to know that there situation is temporary.
2. Dance teachers are mentors, confidants and role models. You can be very influential in the lives of the children you teach. It is your responsibility to make your studio/classroom/theatre a safe place. Create a space that is bully free with a no tolerance policy for prejudice, hatefulness and judgment.
3. Any teacher who instructs preteens/teens is working with a population that is questioning their identities and trying to find out how to fit in. Some of what they are discovering about themselves can be overwhelming especially if they don’t know anyone in the LGBT community.
The It Gets Better Project is a lifeline to any teen that is seeing a world where it does not get better. It shows teens that are being harassed because of who they are and who they love that they are supported. They can survive the turmoil and look forward to a future that isn’t focused on bullies, stigma, rejection, isolation and intolerance.
As a dance teacher you help your students reach their full potential. You help them become full expressive beings. And you can help them if they can’t see a future for themselves. You can be a lifeline. Check out the website and the resources available there because it does get better.
Contributor Stacey Pepper Schwartz received her BFA in dance performance at Montclair State University and her MA in dance education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has taught as an artist in residency and guest artist in public and private schools for over twelve years.
Stacey is the Founder and Director of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs. The focus of Leaping Legs Creative Movement Programs is to help people regardless of age, experience or ability, become educated about their movement potential, develop kinesthetic awareness, and become more physically fit and healthy together as a family, and community.
Leaping Legs promotes its goal through the original Up Down & All Around DVD. The DVD received Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Products Award and 10 Best Active Products Award. The DVD has also been featured in many magazines including Dance Retailer News, The National Dance Teachers Association dance journal dancematters, and Dance Teacher.
Before embarking on dance education, Stacey was a professional dancer and choreographer in New York City.