Support for Gay Teens Facing Homophobia and Bullying

by Erin Dower

The rash of suicides among bullied gay teens in fall 2010 put a spotlight on homophobia. But the tragedies have also brought to light sources of support for gay teens. See what celebrities have spoken up and learn tips for helping teens fight homophobic bullying.

In This Article:

Suicides spur fight against homophobia

In the span of a few weeks in September and early October 2010, at least five gay teens in the U.S. took their own life after struggles with teasing and bullying in school. The suicides of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, and the other LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) teens in high school and college made news headlines and spurred an uprising against homophobia and bullying. Sadly, self-harm in response to bullying continue today — but the momentum for greater support for LGBT people is building. In June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, and public support for gay and transgender people continues to grow.

It's Getting Better
The "It Gets Better Project" started out in the fall of 2010 as a small series of YouTube videos of adults showing support and encouragement for LGBT youth. Early celebrity contributors included Ellen DeGeneres, Glee's Matthew Morrison, and Project Runway's Tim Gunn.

Today, the project has gone global and grown to include more than 50,000 user-created videos, which have been viewed more than 50 million times. You'll find videos posted by President Barack Obama, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Joe Jonas, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community — in addition to the thousands of videos from the general public, including police officers, firefighters, military service people and veterans, hospital workers, athletes, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, and many more LGBT and straight people of all ages. Each video offers words of hope and wisdom and a show of support for gay teens. The project's website also keeps track of positive LGBT news on its "How It's Gotten Better" Timeline.

#SpiritDay
In response to the suicides in 2010, high schools and communities across the country organized candlelight vigils and "Wear Purple" days as a sign of solidarity against homophobia. GLAAD, an LGBT advocacy organization, continues to rally people to wear purple for Spirit Day (October 17, 2013) in a stand against bullying and to show their support for LGBT youth. Hundreds of schools, offices, organizations, and celebrities participate in the day, and the movement is growing every year. Anyone can get involved simply by wearing purple and tweeting or posting online about #SpiritDay to spread the word.

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