I saw this It Gets Better music video last night, and it’s been in my head ever since. It is not at all safe for work, though it should be:
The It Gets Better campaign began in response to the suicide of a teenager bullied mercilessly about his sexuality. The campaign is a phenomenal thing: in the four months since it started, thousands of people have uploaded videos to YouTube, all imploring teenagers not to give up hope. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Google, Pixar and a huge number of celebrities have raised its profile beyond all expectations, which is properly brilliant.
It was conceived as an LGBT campaign, and I’ve seen various straight bloggers talking about how they’d love to be involved, but their experiences aren’t the same. They’ve suffered bullying, but not in the same way, and they certainly don’t want to dilute the central message – the campaign’s focus is and has to remain homophobic bullying, as it’s not a widely acknowledged topic.
Given the coda in the above video, though, I think it’s worth every parent / aunt / uncle / friend / whatever having this campaign in their back pocket, just in case. When we were at school there were escape routes, as the internet wasn’t a thing. School was pretty miserable for me on the whole (though in hindsight it could have been much worse), but no matter what happened during the day, I could go home and things would be ok for the evening. I remember being shaken once at seeing a particular dickhead walk down my road, as this was where I was safe. But nothing ever came of that, and home was always a haven. I hit 16, got the hell out of secondary school, and life improved drastically. But my escape route isn’t available now. I cannot fucking imagine how awful it must be now that Facebook / email / mobile phones mean people can get to you outside school. It must be horrific.
But at least the connected world means projects like this can be a beacon. I think it should be spread as far as possible, so that all teenagers get to know about it. Hell, they should talk about it in assemblies. Of course, this would mean the insane scenario of telling children in school that school is shit and things will improve, rather than fixing the system1. But whatever. Everyone should know that it gets better.
- I sometimes wonder if collective education is worth the bullying tradeoff [↩]