Last month British Columbia’s Representative of Children and Youth released its own “It Gets Better” video, aimed at inspiring British Columbia’s LGBTQ youth to focus on a positive future ahead.
The video, which was released to mark National Child Day on November 18, highlights the experiences of a number of British Columbians in dealing with bullying, homophobia, discrimination and being different.
Video participants include Vancouver MP Dr. Hedy Fry, Vancouver West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert (pictured in a still from the video right), several youth activists including Ryan Clayton of the Purple Letter Campaign, a female Victoria police officer, a First Nations youth worker, a young Victoria opera singer and others.
“This video is meant to spark a dialogue that can help give strength and encouragement to LGBT youth,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond the BC Representative of Children and Youth . “Bullying and homophobia can deeply hurt those who need our support, and can destroy families, communities and lives. We need to help them find their voice and to reach out to those who respect and support them.”
Turpel-Lafond said that she hoped everyone that watches the video will think about practical, concrete ways to be champions for this particularly vulnerable group of youth, and to act to make their lives better. She noted that homophobia within both the youth and adult populations is still very much alive. “We need to continue to educate about this, so young people feel supported and know they belong.”
“A video is a starting point only in working towards changing attitudes, policies and environments,” said Turpel-Lafond. “We have to take real steps within our communities, our schools, our governments and our daily lives, to improve the path for LGBT youth. We can do this by creating policies that leave no doubt around equality, by developing safe meeting places, and working hard to eliminate systemic barriers to LGBT youth being themselves.”
The Representative said that she has also written to Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister George Abbott. Her letter expresses support of other initiatives relating to homophobia in schools, including the recent Purple Letter Campaign, and has urged the government to implement a province-wide sexual orientation and gender identity policy for all B.C. schools, to ensure LGBT students throughout B.C. are supported and protected.
“For LGBT youth, this abuse often takes place in a school environment, and that is unacceptable,” she said. “We have a responsibility to do everything possible to make B.C. schools safe, welcoming places for all students.”
The Representative for Children and Youth is an independent officer of the British Columbia legislature, who champions the fundamental rights of vulnerable children and youth, and promotes improvements in services to them. The Representative has offices in Burnaby, Victoria and Prince George.
If you need help to be heard, or know someone who does, call the RepLine free at 1-800-476-3933 or visit The Rep online at www.talktotherep.ca.