Lonely Planet Writer

It gets better - Lonely Planet's message

One of the things we truly believe at Lonely Planet is that travel can be a force for good. It opens your eyes to the lives of people in other places, helping you to understand our common humanity - and to sympathise with other people, no matter how different they and their culture may be from you and yours.

Sympathy for others, however, is sadly in short supply for many young people around the world. In schools and universities, teens are chronically bullied and tormented by other students, often simply for being different. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are especially at risk. According to some sources, they’re two to three times more likely to be bullied than straight kids, and up to four times as likely to attempt suicide because of it.

In September 2010, this issue was spotlighted by a tragic spate of student suicides in the US. Some of these people were gay and some simply perceived as gay, but all were bullied and harassed for this perception. In response, noted advice columnist Dan Savage and his long-term partner recorded and published a video describing their own difficult experiences as gay teens, and how much better life got for them once they finished school.

This was the genesis of the It Gets Better Project, which aims to give hope to bullied kids everywhere. More than 5000 videos have since been uploaded by people all over the world, from ordinary people to celebrities and politicians, telling their own stories of childhood bullying and how they managed to make it through – and how important it is for every teenager out there to do the same.

A number of us here at Lonely Planet had these same experiences growing up, and we too wanted to offer some hope to any teens out there who might be running out of it. So we recorded our own video for the It Gets Better Project.

If you’re someone who, like us, has been bullied by others for simply being who you are, we hope that hearing our stories might help you to know that you’re not alone, and that things really do get better. If a friend or family member is being bullied at school, please pass along this video and tell them about the It Gets Better Project, and let them know that there are indeed people who care.

Life is the longest and most amazing journey any of us will ever go on, and we don’t want anyone quitting before it even really gets started. It gets better!

Here are some other links to organisations that help LGBT youth with issues of sexual identity and bullying:

The Trevor Project (US)

Queer Youth Network (UK)

Bullying: No Way! (AU)

Reach Out (AU)