Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dear Queer Teen - It Get's Better!


Hi! My name is Gwyneth and I was a Gleek in high school. Though there was no name for that, then. It was the 80's and I was an alternative / new wave / hardcore punk rock chick with short spiky red & dyed black hair who had a part-time job at Kemp Mill Records (!), wearing skinny vintage men's ties & round band buttons & who hung out with the other freaks behind the high school on the theater loading dock. There's nothing that said bad-ass in 1983 like a black leather Members Only jacket adorned with safety pins. BwaHaHa! Was I teased? You Bet!...Bullied? Hmm, occasionally. Though snarky charm has always been my armor. Sometimes tough as iron and sometimes tissue thin. (Pssst! Keep reading for my first FREE BOOK Giveaway!) Having lots of friends in studio art, music-theater & punk rock scene, I had lots of LGBT & geeky friends who were reeeeally bullied. And it sucked! I also had friends later in the 80's who died of AIDS and have recently cried over a former student who took his own life allegedly due to bullying about his sexual identity. Why all this TMI flashback? Because though a lot has changed since I was in high school in the 80's we still haven't evolved enough! AND...you don't have to be gay yourself to be empathetic. Please Note: I don't consider Glee a "gay-centric" show -- it's an amazing show that teaches tolerances of ALL of our differences! I wish we had Glee on TV when I was in high school - I woulda gladly traded Three's Company for it! And I think it could have changed the world - about 20 years earlier!
We MUST start and keep talking about bullying, LGBT rights, and the freedom to be an individual in our schools. The It Get's Better campaign is an amazing resource for helping introduce this topic to teens, through videos from celebrities (both gay & straight) real people of ALL AGES, a help section, and a very inspiring It Get's Better Blog. When should we teach tolerance of race, religion, character, and sexual identity? I think from birth! But definitely in school!
The Letter Q
Q is for Queer and this is a newly published resource in the arsenal for combating the cruelty of bullying and to give hope to vulnerable LGBT teens. One suited & rated for the high school library. From the publisher:
"In this anthology, sixty-four award-winning authors and illustrators such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline Woodson, Terrence McNally, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan, and Armistead Maupin, make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people.
Through stories, in pictures, with bracing honesty, these are words of love, messages of understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. They will tell you things about your favorite authors that you never knew before. And they will tell you about yourself."

You don't have to be gay or queer to appreciate this touching, amusing, illustrative, and poignant book written for teens by writers writing to their own teen selves. If you're an educator or school librarian then this is an approachable and insightful anthology to hand over with a warm encouraging smile to gay or questioning teens. A must have for any high school library.

We all need to work with our kids, teachers, counselors, parents, & the community to show that we won't accept or tolerate bullying of ANY kind in our schools!

My First Giveaway!
Want to win your own hard copy of this book? Just Comment or Tweet! Win one of 2 hard cover copies donated by the media reps of Scholastic. Shipping included! I'm gonna try this new Rafflecopter widget below I'll choose one best comment and one random Tweet (or best Tweet) and I'm forwarding this info to the publicist who will then send out the book. Please include your email address in the comment and or/ follow me on Twitter if you expect to win - I'll email and or/ DM to get your mailing addresses. If the Rafflecopter thingy doesn't work just pls. leave a comment or Tweet making sure you add @gwynethjones :-) (Raffle is OVER & book has been awarded - thanks to all participants!)
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Resources:
It Gets Better: the Book
"We created the It Gets Better book because not all students have access to YouTube or can reach us online. The book includes essays and new material from more than 100 contributors including celebrities, religious leaders, politicians, parents, educators, youth just out of high school, and many more." --- Ages 18 & up

MORE:
The Letter Q Booklist Review
The Letter Q
Sends the Younger You a Message
The Letter Q Available on Amazon
The Letter Q on Facebook

Publishers Weekly: In New Anthology, LGBT Authors Speak to Their Younger Selves

View & Embed the Chrome It Gets Better Video on your blog via my Flickr!
Because some schools filter & block YouTube or maybe even the It Get's better site, using KeepVid.com I downloaded & then mirrored this video onto my Flickr. Feel free to view, share, watch, and embed it freely! Thank you the It's Gets Better site & Dan Savage!

(PS. I have not been compensated for the giveaway or this post - the topic of LGBT rights & anti- bullying is close to my heart - I don't take suggestions of what to blog about gracefully. In fact this is what I wrote when the publicist contacted me "I don't usually respond to solicited suggestions for my blog content. In fact, they sorta piss me off. Like I can be bought!?? LOL As if! That having been said, this is a topic that any GLEEK feels passionate & strongly about. I can't make any promises but if you send me the book and I think it's worth sharing and if it's positively reviewed by SLJ, Booklist, or LJ then I would be happy to chime in & do a giveaway.)

From my 1983 Eleanor Roosevelt High School Yearbook! Feel free to laugh! ;-)

6 comments:

  1. Wow --- hadn't heard about this book, but now, will make sure it gets into my library. :) GREAT POST!!!!!

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  2. Thanks so much for letting me know about this book, Gwyneth. I'm going to add it to my order list. I am heartened that attitudes have changed since I was young, when even discussing homosexuality was pretty much a taboo. But, they still have a long way to go. No child or adult should ever have to be subject to bullying or discrimination because they are different from the mainstream in any way.

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  3. I tried entering your raffle by leaving a comment using the Rafflecopter but something went wrong:( So I am leaving my comment here.

    Thank you so much for recommending this book and continuing to be an advocate for LGBT members of our school community. One way we can help students who are being bullied is to make sure our students know that we won't tolerate it in the classroom. Student get a very strong message when we ignore behaviors and/or comments in the classroom. When we do that we are saying that it is okay to treat another person inappropriately in my classroom. Kids are very good at figuring out which classrooms they can get away with things. It also sends the message to the student who is the victim that you are not safe in my classroom. When we hear or see bullying behaviors (comments, actions, etc) we need to speak up--"I am offended when you use that language" or something along those lines and then hold the person who said it accountable to their actions.

    Your blog was just recommended to me and I am so excited to have found it. Thank you!

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  4. As someone who was bullied nearly daily through most of my elementary years, I believe that teachers and Librarians can help three ways:
    1. Model mindful and tolerant behavior at all times, especially in front of kids and teens. Nothing says bullying is OK than watching adults bully and gossip.
    2. Zero tolerance for bulling, but with the passionate understanding that the bully is probably a victim too.
    3. Sharing our stories, so many bullied kids believe that they are alone in their experiences, nothing helps more than an adult willing to intervene, and willing to show that there is life after bullying!
    Thanks for the wonderful, project and for sharing your story!

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  5. Thank you to everyone who entered the contest by leaving a comment or Tweeting! I have emailed the winners & let them know! We are all winners if we give one kid the hope that life will get better!
    Cheers!
    ~Gwyneth

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