Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"It Gets Better" In Every School and Library

Today, I received an email from Sarah in Calgary.  She made me aware of the opportunity all of us have to make a donation to the "It Gets Better" Project, to ensure a copy of the book version is placed in every school and library.  As far as I can tell, this applies to schools and libraries in the United States, but this got me thinking.  Why not contact schools in our own communities and offer to donate a copy of Dan Savage and Terry's Miller's It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living?

To this end, I accessed the website for the high school located just a few blocks from where Chris and I live, clicked on "Email the Principal," and wrote the following:

Hi, Mr. _______.  My name is Rick, and I'm a resident of ______________.
I'm not sure you've heard about the "It Gets Better" Project, but it was started last fall by American columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, following the suicides of numerous students because they were gay or suspected of being gay.  Savage and Miller created the first YouTube video, telling their story as gay men who were bullied in school, and urging today's youth to hang in there--that is, not to commit suicide--because life gets so much better for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered once their school years are over.  Their video turned into a movement, with thousands upon thousands of others (including gays, straights, and everyone in between) creating their own videos in support of LGBTQ youth.  (For more information, please check out
Recognizing that many young people don't have access to the Internet, or to the support materials they might need during a difficult time in their lives, Savage and Miller transposed some of the messages from the videos (and included original essays) into a book titled "It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living."  The book contains articles from a wide variety of people, including U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; people well known in the media, such as Ellen DeGeneres, David Sedaris, and Suze Orman; and everyday people, telling their own personal stories of triumphing over being tormented in school.  I own a copy of "It Gets Better," I've read it in detail, and I know if I'd had access to its important and uplifting message of self-acceptance and hope when I was growing up in the 1970s, there's no telling how much easier my life would have been.  
The "It Gets Better" Project presents the opportunity for people to donate money so that copies of the book can be bought and sent to schools across the United States.  But I'd like to do one better than that and not only donate a copy to a school, but donate it to a Canadian school, in my own community, where I'm certain it would be an important resource for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students.  Of course, this school is _________________.  
If your school already has a copy of "It Gets Better," great.  I'd be thrilled to learn that.  I'd appreciate knowing so I could similarly contact other schools in the ______________ area to make enquiries of them.  
I hope you recognize how useful a tool the book "It Gets Better" could be to potentially at-risk students in your school.  Nothing would make me happier than walking over to your school, meeting you in person, and handing you a copy of Savage and Miller's book.    
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Rick Modien

Anyone who's kept up with my blog recently knows how much I've thought of the book It Gets Better.  Against copyright laws, I've quoted from it readily and unabashedly, and I've used it as inspiration for several posts.  I can't speak highly enough of the simplicity and the importance of its message, and I'd be ecstatic if every Canadian school made this critical resource available to students across the country.

If you're a Canadian reader, and you'd like to follow my lead, by all means use the text of my letter above (if you want) to make contact with your local schools.

You've heard of "Adopt a Highway"?  Well, how about "Adopt a School"?  Let's make sure every gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning student has access to It Gets Better.  We have a responsibility to support our youth in any way we can.

P.S.:  I'll let you know what response I receive from the local school principal.


  1. Hi Rick,
    Have you received any response yet from the local high school principal? I'd suggest making things easier (i.e., requiring an email reply) by actually dropping off the book and leaving your contact information in the event the school chooses NOT to include the book in its collection.

    You may want to ask for the librarian who should have the authority for deciding what books to shelve. If the librarian is not available, leave the book for him or her. It's a busy time of year in schools and the easier you make the process for getting the book in circulation, the better.

    I plan to buy and drop off the book to at least two high schools in my area.

  2. Hey, Rural Gay. No, it's now been just over a week, and, unfortunately, I haven't heard from the principal of the local high school. I can't say I'm surprised. One, as you say, this time of year is VERY busy at schools, and two, I'm not certain the local school district would approve adding this book to the school's library. I live in a largely religious, heterosexual, family-oriented, blue-collar area, and, I could be wrong, but I don't think some parents would appreciate hearing this book was available to their children at school.

    I like your suggestion, but I don't want to order a copy of the book (so much cheaper at and not find a home for it (since I already have my own). I spoke to Chris about it, and he said to give it a little more time. So, we'll see. I haven't given up. I know from reading every word myself how helpful this book would be to confused, questioning, and uncomfortable young people, and the huge amount of support they'd get from the positive messages inside. But I think each of us has to consider the best way to get it into the hands of local kids (perhaps via the local public library instead).

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and for taking time to leave a comment.

  3. Hi Rick,
    The positive thing is that the "It Gets Better" project is easily accessible online. Yes, some do not have internet, but those numbers are dwindling. Most of the confused/questioning and self-identifying have a sense of company, even when isolated in rural/religious/intolerant locales. That's why the original YouTube-based undertaking is so remarkable.

    Of course, reading the words may have a more potent impact than hearing them. I do hope the high school eventually gets around to stocking the book. You are also right about public libraries being more open to receiving this book.

  4. Hey, Rural Gay.

    You might be interested in the follow-up letter I wrote to the high school principal today, which I included in a post update. Check it out.

    I had a look at the public library where I live, and it looks like they aren't scheduled to receive a copy of "It Gets Better." So, if I don't receive a response from the principal, saying he'll take me up on my offer to donate a copy, I'll make enquiries of the public library. I'm certain they'll accept it happily.

    Thanks for your comment, and my apologies for taking so long to respond.