As stated on their website, their mission statement is:
“The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”
The It Gets Better Project began in 2010, in response to LGTB teenagers committing suicide, believing that they had no future. It then gained traction and notoriety from high-profile supporters, including celebrities, politicians, and company-staffs. These high-profile supporters began creating videos describing their personal stories of difficulties, trials and tribulations, and ultimately, how they found happiness and a place in their community.
The original photograph was taken outside of my classroom. At the time, I was working as a high school teacher and journalism advisor. It so happened that I was taking a break from grading and curriculum development, long enough to notice a rainbow appearing. It was very slight, but there.
At the time, the It Gets Better Project was in full swing. So I thought it would be great for our students to have a poster/flyer on the doors of our counselors’ doors and office walls that reflected the community they actually came from. So many of the posters given to counselors gave off an impression of insincerity, with stock photos of smiling teenagers perfectly posed with catchy phrases. I wanted to give our students real words, from someone who had actually survived through those dark moments and made it, in his/her way, to be in a better place.
Quote can be found here on the video.
Since taking the photograph, there has been an alarming number of suicide interventions on campus, from perhaps a handful or two, to well over 50. Faculty and staff have been put on heightened alert, to be even more aware of possible signs that may be from worsening mental health, to suicide attempts on campus, and sadly, to actual suicides on campuses around the community. Due to confidentiality and consideration to the families of suicide victims, it is unclear whether the increase in suicide interventions are linked to LGTB issues. Regardless, it remains vital to communicate to our teenagers despite the bleak outlook they have on their lives, the lack of visible hope they may see in their own future, that “it gets better.”
Project type: Assignment
Photo Credits: Self