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Why “It Gets Better” Is Not Enough

Last weekend a gay teenager in Ottawa committed suicide. In his suicide note, he referenced the message of “It Gets Better” campaign, saying that he just couldn’t wait.

I think his comment points to one of the biggest failures of the “It Gets Better” campaign. Its central message is:

“Hey, we know high school is tough – we’ve been there! But hold on because after you graduate life is going to get a whole lot better. Look, you could have partners and cool jobs and live around other queers. Just wait out that difficult high school period and it will get better!”

Certainly, the notion that life gets better after high school, especially for those who are bullied, is an important part of the message. However, especially for those who are bullied, that cannot be the whole message.

Focusing on the idea of “it gets better” is neglecting the very concrete concerns of the present. Right now there are queer teenagers who are dealing with real hatred, hostility, and violence. Why should they wait for it to get better? They’ve done nothing wrong. They need it better now. We need to make it better now.

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