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Graduate School of Education Video Tells Teens “It Gets Better”

7.29.11

Thousands of people have made personal videos in support of syndicated gay columnist Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, aimed at preventing suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered teenagers. But only a handful of schools have produced official videos, among them, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), which unveiled a four-minute video this week. 

“This video tells a collective story–an HGSE story,” said the school's dean, Kathleen McCartney in announcing the release of the video. “When I first saw the video, I was moved to tears by the comments of our caring community. Through it, we hope to speak directly to high-school students. They deserve safe schools, safe spaces, and acceptance.”

HGSE is Harvard's first institutional participant in the It Gets Better Project. The school's video, completely unscripted, aims to inspire gay teens to find strength through the often emotional stories of LGBT students, faculty, and staff at HGSE who have triumphed over prejudice in their lives.

James Croft, an Ed.D. candidate, recalls, for example, the assembly where his high-school principal announced, “Homosexuals deserve our pity and our prayers.” “I remember sitting amongst my peers and feeling totally alone,” Croft says.

But the video’s overall message is that as adults, gay teens will find social acceptance, and that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered doesn’t have to hold them back from achieving their dreams. “It will definitely get better, so hang in there,” says HGSE associate dean Mohan Boodram on camera. “There are plenty of people around you who admire you. There are plenty of people you will get to meet who will love and admire you and appreciate all that you are.” Dean McCartney notes, “There is a lesson that took me a long time to learn: when people say mean-spirited things, it’s a reflection of them, and not me. The older you get, the wiser you get. And that’s one reason it gets better.”

It Gets Better was started last fall by Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, in the wake of a wave of suicides by teenagers who had been bullied for being gay or suspected of being gay. More than 10,000 videos by both gay and straight participants have been posted to their website since then, including submissions by celebrities, members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, and the Boston Red Sox.

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