Radically Teaching That “It Gets Better”

As a critically queer librarian in a vibrantly gay urban setting, out and proud for as long as I can remember, I sometimes forget how important simple acts of recognition can be. Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project is a poignant reminder, and a wonderful opportunity for GLBTQ adults to send messages to young people struggling with issues of sexuality and identity. By recording simple videos and uploading them to YouTube, folks living happy gay adult lives can tell young gay people–whose suicide rates are shockingly higher than among their straight peers–that life really does get better.

A pair of teachers has recorded a video that is a difficult but moving reminder that teachers are often unable to live openly and honestly without enormous personal risk. Life gets better, but it’s also still hard. Wearing bandanas that cover their faces and telling their stories with words printed on the page rather than with voices that might give them away, they assure students that gay teachers doexist despite their occasional silence. “We will work to protect you,” they say, even if that protection sometimes happens under cover. “Trust your instincts.” Acknowledging the often-silent links between GLBTQ teachers and their GLBTQ students, the video also points to the work we still need to do together to make a world where all of us are welcome.

–Emily Drabinski, Brooklyn, NY

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