School Program 1: The It Gets Better Experience

The artists of GMCLA are out­stand­ing in their work with younger indi­vid­u­als, as seen in their lauded Alive Music Project (AMP) in which singers per­form and inter­act with mid­dle and high school stu­dents in a music education/anti‐bullying work­shop on cam­pus. In this pro­gram, artists will per­form excerpts from It Gets Bet­ter, share per­sonal nar­ra­tives, and lead a dis­cus­sion with stu­dents about their experiences.

It Gets Bet­ter scenes and songs address bul­ly­ing (both in and out of school) as well as the dif­fi­culty young peo­ple may have talk­ing with par­ents and other adults about their chal­lenges – an issue par­tic­u­larly com­pli­cated for LGBT students.

Com­pany mem­bers will share some of their own It Gets Bet­ter sto­ries to help stu­dents envi­sion their own path­ways toward happy and mean­ing­ful adult lives.

Com­pany mem­bers are trained in proven facil­i­ta­tion tech­niques to cre­ate a safe space for dis­cus­sion. Stu­dent ques­tions will be answered, and stu­dents will also be invited to com­ment about the pro­gram and its themes.

This ses­sion is suit­able for small or large school audi­ences of 30‐300 stu­dents; larger venues may require pro­fes­sional ampli­fi­ca­tion. (50 minutes)

How Does My School Ben­e­fit from The It Gets Bet­ter Experience?

Accord­ing to the National School Cli­mate Sur­vey con­ducted by GLSEN (Gay, Les­bian & Straight Edu­ca­tion Net­work), 85% of LGBT stu­dents reported being ver­bally harassed, 40% reported being phys­i­cally harassed and 19% reported being phys­i­cally assaulted at school in the past year because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Nearly a third skipped at least one day of school in the past month because of safety con­cerns. This also man­i­fested as increased depres­sion and low self‐esteem*

When LGBT stu­dents are taught about pos­i­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tions of LGBT peo­ple, his­tory, and events they are half as likely to expe­ri­ence high lev­els of vic­tim­iza­tion because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der expres­sion. Data also sup­ports that stu­dents are also less likely to miss school because of feel­ing unsafe or uncomfortable.

Shock­ingly, 87% of stu­dents are never taught any­thing about LGBT peo­ple. The It Gets Bet­ter Expe­ri­ence allows stu­dents to inter­act with happy, suc­cess­ful, and artic­u­late gay peo­ple of diverse ages and back­grounds. This reduces homo­pho­bia among straight stu­dents and pro­vides pos­i­tive role mod­els for LGBT or ques­tion­ing youth.

Offer­ing pro­grams like It Gets Bet­ter con­tributes to a less‐hostile school expe­ri­ence for LGBT youth, accord­ing to “Teach­ing Respect” a GLSEN research brief released in April 2012. The pres­ence of sup­port­ive staff in schools also con­tributes to fewer reports of stu­dents miss­ing school or feel­ing unsafe. It is pos­i­tively cor­re­lated with greater aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment, higher edu­ca­tional aspi­ra­tions and a greater sense of school belonging.

This pro­gram addresses the fol­low­ing edu­ca­tional criteria:

  • NA‐T.9‐12.7  Ana­lyz­ing, cri­tiquing, and con­struct­ing mean­ings from infor­mal and for­mal the­atre, film, tele­vi­sion, and elec­tronic media productions.
  • NA‐T.9‐12.8  Under­stand­ing con­text by ana­lyz­ing the role of the­atre, film, tele­vi­sion, and elec­tronic media in the past and the present.
  • NA‐M.9‐12.8  Under­stand­ing rela­tion­ships between music, the other arts, and dis­ci­plines out­side the arts.
  • NLENG.K‐12.12  Apply­ing lan­guage skills.

*2009 sur­vey of 7,261 LGBT stu­dents between the ages of 13 and 21 from all 50 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia.  Report is biennial;results of 2011 sur­vey are to be pub­lished in the fall of 2012.

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