It gets better
What is equality? Everyone is different, so should we all be treated differently or is it right to treat everyone the same? Which is fairer?
There are many ways that the youth of today differ; one way is sexuality. But are all orientations truly accepted, or is that only on paper and not truly demonstrated in society?
Last Monday, Oct. 11 was the 23rd anniversary of National Coming Out Day. It was a day of celebration for people of all sexualities, and to “show the public that LGBTQ [lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, and questioning] people are everywhere,” according to the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization that focuses on equality for LGBTQ individuals.
Because Oct. 11 fell on Thanksgiving this year, campus LGBTQ organization UR Pride could be found honouring National Coming Out Day on Oct. 12 in the Riddell Centre with an informative set-up, explaining the many services that they offer. UR Pride were also giving out free customized t-shirts emblazoned with words like “queer”, “out”, and “gay” to help promote the event and had a video camera available for filming It Gets Better videos.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than the average teen. Even more incredibly, LGBTQ youth who are not accepted by their families are over eight percent more likely to commit suicide, according to a 2009 study at San Francisco University.
In response to these devastating and growing statistics, the It Gets Better Project has begun. Encouraging videos have been posted to YouTube , assuring youth that their struggle with bullying does decrease over time.
One popular video, posted by Joel Burns, a city council member in Fort Worth, TX, reveals his very personal story of his own fight for identity and coming out with his sexuality. Some youth that have committed suicide were bullied by their peers and role models at schools, churches, or extra-curricular events. Some of these children have even been told to “go kill yourself,” as Joel states in his video.
Joel states, “Our schools must be a safe place to learn and to grow.”
Each individual should have the right to education, without harassment or distraction, encourages the Human Rights Campaign.
“Give yourself a chance to see how much better life will get, and it will get better,” says Joel Burns, and many of the others who have posted statements to the video series.
The current youth suicide rate among homosexual and bisexual people is appalling. However, the network of peoples and organizations trying to reduce these statistics shows a growing unity in the global community. It can inspire not only those afraid to come out, but anyone who has ever felt a little different.