By now, you've seen this heart-wrenching video from a local teenage boy who was being tormented by bullies at school because he is gay, but just in case you've been in a holiday stupor, please watch it. Over eight million people have already viewed it ...
When I first watched Jonah's tear-filled face and read his words, I too cried. But what could I do to help other than teach my kids to be tenderhearted, compassionate and accepting? Then I learned about The Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization that aids gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning teens and young adults through crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. Everyday the Trevor Project fields hundreds of calls from kids in crisis and over 23,000 use their Trevor Space message boards to connect and get support. The Trevor Project Lifeline -- open around the clock and staffed by 210 counselors -- has taken over 200,000 calls since it opened its lines in 1998.
The Trevor Project also offers classes and support for parents and teachers and an online "Ask Trevor" service that fields questions of a non-time sensitive nature to anyone who needs more practical questions answered, like where to find a good counselors in the user's area. In every respect, The Trevor Project is reaching out to kids where they are, in the method they feel most comfortable, to help them deal with bullies and with the colossal pressure of being young and gay.
Through connections with other people, wether it's a peer or a trained professional, these kids receive the support of a community and I'm truly grateful for the Trevor Project for offering that to them. "No life is a one person show," says Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive Walt Disney Imagineering, in this video produced by The Walt Disney Company for The Trevor Project titled: It Gets Better. "You need to surround yourself with people who love you for who you are and encourage you to share with the world the unique gifts that you have to offer," says Vaughn.
Good for Disney for lending a hand to the incredible organization by making this raw and honest video. I recognize so many of the participants through my work with Disney. These are the people who bring you the products, stories, experiences and magic we all love.
I would encourage you to help spread the word by sharing it to help reach kids in crisis everywhere. The single, simple message at the end might be just what a gay or lesbian youth need to hear right now: It gets better!
If you or someone you know ever needs help, call The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). It's toll-free, confidential and available 24/7.
HOW TO CONNECT WITH THE TREVOR PROJECT:
You can also help by donating to The Trevor Project, here.
Photo via The Trevor Project