Barack Obama offers encouragement to gay teens [video]

Posted by JD Uy
October 23, 2010 4:28 AM |

''Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives.  As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart.  It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country. 

''We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage – that it’s some inevitable part of growing up.  It’s not.  We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe forall of our kids.  And to every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help. 

''I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay.  But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong.  It’s tough.  And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart – I know can just wear on you.  And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else. 

''But what I want to say is this.  You are not alone.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied.  And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities.''

Opening remarks from President Barack Obama who, like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, has released a video of encouragement for LGBT teens. (White House via YouTube)

The President's message is one of hundreds recently submitted to the ''It Gets Better Project.'' That online collection of videos is an effort, led by gay advice columnist Dan Savage, that hopes to have adults speak directly to teens in school systems that prohibit or restrict open discussion of issues that deal with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Several teens in different parts of the U.S. took their own lives last month. The tragic circumstances involved set off a media storm. That led to an incredible outpouring of support for gay teens and other bullied youth from all levels of society.

''This is personal to me. When I was a young adult, I faced the jokes and taunting that too many of our youth face today, and I considered suicide as a way out. But I was fortunate. One of my co-workers recognized that I was hurting, and I soon confided in her. She cared enough to push me to seek help. She saved my life. I will always be grateful for her compassion and support – the same compassion and support that so many kids need today.

''In the wake of these terrible tragedies, thousands of Americans have come together to share their stories of hope and encouragement for LGBT youth who are struggling as part of the It Gets Better Project. Their messages are simple: no matter how difficult or hopeless life may seem when you’re a young person who’s been tormented by your peers or feels like you don’t fit in: life will get better.''

From a message posted by Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement, on the White House's official blog. He suggests LGBT kids in need of assistance contact the Trevor Project, BullyingInfo.org or the Dan Savage's online It Gets Better Project. (WhiteHouse.gov)


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