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24 January, 2011

This Here is a Hate-Free Zone, Friends

I was really saddened when I heard that there was another gay teen suicide last week in Michigan, and yet another one in Orange County. And this is after high-profile campaigns such as the outpouring of "It Gets Better" Videos submitted from everyone from regular people, to the staff of Pixar to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and of course, the infamous, f-bomb-dropping, FCKH8 videos.
These campaigns, and others, do well to increase awareness and also to raise money in support of The Trevor Project, which is a long-standing support resource for suicide prevention for troubled LGBTQ youth.

Don't Ask Don't Tell just got repealed in the United States recently, as well. (Yay!) So that should be a light at the end of the tunnel for those LGBTQ youth in the US that would want to serve. (Canada, for the record, has allowed LGBT people to serve openly without discrimination since 1992. Go Canada!) 

So despite all these developments, we are still hearing about teenage suicide. 

Then it occurred to me: What about the kids that we're NOT hearing about? What about the kids that these programs are working on? Those that see their favourite musician or athlete publish a video that says "It Gets Better", and then decide to go to school and face the bullies one more day.

I don't think we'll ever learn how many kids are growing up now, thanks to programs like The Trevor Project, FCKH8, and It Gets Better, but even one saved life is worthwhile, and I think that's bloody awesome. 

I couldn't find any instances in the news of gay teenage suicides in Canada, but I don't think it's because they aren't happening. I could be wrong, but I think that in Canada, suicides aren't publicized as much as in the States, so that's why we don't hear about them as often.

Believe me, I've had some [often infuriating] conversations, and homophobia as alive and well here. Well, in Calgary, at least. It is crucial that Canadian LGBTQ teenagers are able to find the support that they need.

It actually inspired me to look at what programs are available here in Canada:

  • My Gay Straight Alliance is the new anti-bullying program in Canada that has programs popping up all over the country in schools.
  • Youth Line is a crisis-line for youth in Ontario.
  • Youth Safe is an Alberta-based community with resources and links, etc.

These aren’t all the programs in Canada, of course, but a small sampling, and I hope that the list only grows longer. 

Wait. On second thought, I hope it shrinks. I hope that the need for LGBTQ support and crisis services dwindles. Because when that does, we'll all know that attitudes have changed and teenagers can view their world as a safe place.

So how can this straight girl help? How can I help to actually make it better? By caring, first off. And that means doing my best to raise awareness, supporting and donating to the causes that champion a better, safe world for all kids, and above else, to make my life a Hate-Free Zone. And you can too! It’s really not that hard!

~A

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