‘It Gets Better’ may not be so good at preventing youth LGBT suicides: study
Launched in 2010 in response to reports of ‘LGB’ youth suicides, ‘It Gets Better’ eventually collected more than 50,000 video remarks, including then-President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Clinton.
Meant to encourage, ‘It Gets Better’ may have had the opposite effect. The study, found in the Journal of Homosexuality, has produced stunning reports in gay-oriented media that previously lauded the Dan Savage project.
A headline at the LGBT-targeted Logo Network’s NewNowNext’s website blares, “‘It Gets Better’ Is Bad Advice For Gay Kids, Study Claims,” and may “do more harm than good.”
The Washington Blade, a website serving the LGBT community in Washington, D.C., features a similar headline, “‘It Gets Better’ may be harmful.” The article went on to say, “The ‘It Gets Better’ video series, started in 2010 to combat LGBT teen suicide, may not be effective.”
Queerty’s headline asks, “It gets better … Or does it? Study finds anti-bullying catch phrase may do more harm than good.”
The study “examined 245 lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) young adults’ (ages 21-25) retrospective reports of coping in response to LGB minority stress during adolescence (ages 13- 19) to test the reliability and validity of a measure of minority stress coping.”
Three strategies common to LGB teens were identified: LGB-specific strategies (e.g., involvement with LGBT organizations), alternative-seeking strategies (e.g., finding new friends), and cognitive strategies (e.g., imagining a better future).
Cognitive-based strategies, such as the ‘It Gets Better’ approach, were associated with poorer adjustment and less likelihood of high school attainment.
University of Arizona professor Russell Toomey, who headed the study, told NewNow Next, “Our findings question the ’It Gets Better’ narrative that’s been given to LGB youth. Asking youth to accept negative experiences as the only coping strategy potentially exacerbates stress.”
As a result, Toomey suggests that strategies like the “It Gets Better” campaign are “associated with more depressive symptoms, less self-esteem and less satisfaction in life.”
When launched, the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign was greeted with much fanfare with celebrities and political figures clamoring to post their video messages to the site.
Savage once interpreted then-President Obama’s advice to LGB youth in this way: “President Obama was telling queer kids, there's something wrong with your parents. There's something wrong with your preachers. There's something wrong with your teachers. And f*** those people.”
In the inaugural video of the ‘It Gets Better’ site, Dan Savage said, “I was Catholic, went to Catholic high school, Catholic boys’ school. My dad was a Catholic deacon, my mom was a Catholic lay minister and my family was very Catholic.” Savage later became a severe critic of the Catholic Church.
The middle-aged Savage is now an Atheist who is known for his acerbic anti-Christian rhetoric, once telling an assembly of high school journalism students, “We can learn to ignore the bulls*** in the Bible.” He called a group of Christian students who walked out of the event “pansy ass.”
Savage is also an X-rated sex columnist and the inspiration and executive producer for ABC’s sitcom “The Real O'Neals.”
Savage has yet to respond to the gay media reports on Twitter or Facebook.