It Gets Better campaign continues

By Andrea Llewellyn

The It Gets Better campaign began in September 2010 by author Dan Savage in an effort to provide a positive message for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth facing harassment and bullying. The project gained mass appeal and sparked a worldwide movement.

Since that date, over 30,000 videos have been made and viewed more than 40 million times.

The U of C joined the It Gets Better community in 2010. It started as a partnership between the Students’ Union and the Student Success Centre.

This year, alumna Aleesha Bray, an academic advisor at the Student Success Centre and Madeleine Hardy, event and employer services coordinator, have taken the initiative to continue the project.

Bray said she felt it was important to keep the It Gets Better U of C campaign going in order to continue to raise awareness.

She said stories help connect people and “it lets people know that they are not alone in their experiences and that other people face challenges and have managed to survive. So it is a way to build a sense of community.”

The 2011 campaign’s approach is about preventative measures and supportive strategies.

Positive responses have been heard from members of the community.

One mother expressed her efforts to raise children who didn’t bully and who would become allies to the LGBTQ community.

“We are talking about different ways that we can make it better now,” said Bray.

U of C English and women’s studies student Nicole Dore has felt the stigma of being a part of the LGBQT community first hand.

“It is strange occupying the space of being bisexual,” said Dore. “I mean, holding hands with [my girlfriend] on campus, I used to feel so nervous because I felt like we were going to experience some sort of ‘gay-bashing.’” Dore added, “Sometimes it is spoken and sometimes it is unspoken but there is still a heterosexist slant on Western society in general.”

SU president Dylan Jones participated in this year’s It Gets Better campaign, making a video as a LGBTQ ally.

“The beauty of our school is it is very diverse,” Jones said. “There are people of different passions, concerns and different focuses, and the It Gets Better Campaign is an example of people taking action on something that matters to them and reaching out to see if it matters to other people and allowing them to become a part of it.”

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