Obama says it gets better

October 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

Barack Obama has made a powerful contribution to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project. Savage, a popular US sex advice columnist, started the project in response to the growing number of gay teen suicide stories in the news.

The website posts the following startling statistics which, I assume, apply to the United States – land of the “free”:

  • 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
  • LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
  • More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted to commit suicide.
  • LGBT kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide then our straight peers.
  • LGBT youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.

In his brief but insightful video, Obama raises some important issues, most notably around the nature of discrimination:

  • Feeling like you don’t belong is not an exclusively gay problem.
  • Anyone who has experienced bullying, whether based on sexuality or for some other reason, needs to understand that bullying is NOT a rite of passage.
  • NO ONE deserves to be bullied.
  • There are people out there who care about you just as you are. Reach out to them; don’t be afraid.
  • Being different can be a source of pride.
  • Looking back on your struggles in the past with an open heart filled with compassion will help you be a better adult.
  • Everybody deserves respect.
  • Each of us has the right to pursue our own version of happiness.
  • We have the right to speak our minds and be true to ourselves.

I, for one, am heartened that President Obama took the time to reach out from the Oval Office and speak out on behalf of those who feel they have no reason to live.

Life may not always be pretty but it is precious. And it DOES get better.

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Entry filed under: Mental Health, Sexuality, Social Change. Tags: , .

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