It Gets Better… when?

Make no mistake; those who do nothing about the struggles of LGBT youth are just as responsible for their suicides as the people who bullied them in the first place.

It gets better.

Sure it does, but that doesn’t address the present issue. It needs to get better now for these kids being bullied. Not later, not in college, now. I appreciate the sentiment of so many people coming together on this message, and while it’s a fairly true message it doesn’t accurately address the problems facing LGBT students at this point in their lives. It’s almost condescending in a way, making it come off that the problems of LGBT teens aren’t important because it all goes away in the future when the bullies grow up. I dealt with this attitude in high school when I came out to my friends, resulting in the entire school knowing about my sexual orientation. I was bullied, cornered in hallways, tripped, pushed, and sexually harassed. When I told the administration about this the general response was, “Why did you come out now? You should have waited for college; college kids are accepting of your kind.” Well, I have news for you: It gets better as you get older but it never gets perfect, and the bullies grow up and sometimes stop bullying but sometimes they get aggressive and more confident in their hatred, and it gets better but sometimes the problems facing kids are too much at the time and they don’t even care to wait it out to see if this message is true.

It gets better, but that message is lost on those who kill themselves.

As much as I can take a pledge to state that I will speak up against hatred and intolerance whenever I happen to see it, I will not always be there to see it. Can I trust others to be there in my name and the name of everyone else who pledges to stand up against bullying, or will the problem remain the same? “It gets better! …later, but you need to deal with this now.” Though the overall message is, indeed, inspiring I don’t know if it’s inspiring enough to keep kids who already face issues with depression to keep their heads above the water.

As a community we need to understand that some people are predisposed to take adversity differently than others. Not everyone can just shrug it off and ignore what others say, especially when the negativity is coming from their own homes. I remember when I came out, a counselor that I was seeing at the school basically told me that I needed to wait it out until things got better. He offered no solution to the current problem and basically told me the same thing that this campaign says over and over. “It gets better.” I have to think that some of the people who are saying this don’t understand the way that depression works. In the mind of a depressed person the future isn’t what they worry about, it’s the present. The present is what’s bothering them and the prospect of an accepting college experience isn’t necessarily going to keep them from committing suicide.

When I was in high school I faced adversity by creating my school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance and made even more adversity for myself. I thrived on it; I found it to be empowering, and I actually thought it to be almost funny in some cases. Want to know why? Because stupid people are funny. If someone calls me a faggot it doesn’t offend me, it makes me smile because the bigot that’s making fun of me will never, ever be what I can be. In the end, my differences will be what get me out of Ohio and into doing what I love. Unfortunately, not everyone deals with adversity this way and I understand why. When a child is made fun of for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (or perceived as such) that bothers me. I can handle being made fun of personally but when kids who can’t internalize the struggles as I do are harassed or bullied it bothers me, and it bothers me more that so many of these kids don’t have a support group to turn to.

And then we have the gall to tell them that it gets better… later. As I said, it’s a true message and it’s a message that needs to be heard, but it’s not the whole picture. It gets better, but it needs to get better right now.

So many people who profess that it will get better will do nothing more than make a video about it and move on. I know that this is all that a lot of people can do and I would never criticize people for showing their support, though I do feel as though more needs to be going on with this campaign.

I want to do more to help LGBT youth. Our job should be to educate those who bully, and the schools need to take a harsher stance on bullying. High school faculty needs to be educated on the issues that are unique to their LGBT students and the problems that they face on a daily basis.

What are you going to do about the bullying? Are you going to stand up against bullying when you see it and reach out a helping hand to a child in need, or are you going to make a video and watch as kids get bullied? If it’s the latter, you’re no better than those doing the bullying. A blind eye turned to the struggles of a child in need may as well be the hands pushing a child off the Washington Bridge into the Hudson below.

Make no mistake; those who do nothing about the struggles of LGBT youth are just as responsible for their suicides as the people who bullied them in the first place.

To everyone out there who is feeling bullied right now, you’re not alone. Call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR. There’s always someone who will listen and can help you, regardless of what is going on in your life.

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