For the past few weeks we've been introducing our new college lesbianage and showing you the wonderful experiences that can come with a new year. But what if you aren't enjoying your college years or haven't even gotten to them yet? What if you're still sitting in homeroom hoping no one will call you out for passing your girlfriend a love note or throw you against a locker for wearing a rainbow pin? What if you're locked behind your bedroom door, surfing the internet, counting down the days until you finally get to escape?
As thrilling and hopeful as those final high school years can be, they can also be a cacophany of fluctuating hormones, building sexual confusion, overwhelming college applications, stressful first relationships (or lack thereof), escalating time commitments and general anxiousness. When it seems like life is attacking you from every single direction it's easy to miss how close you are to reaching your goal. The past few academic years have shown how tough high school life can be, but luckily there are people out there listening that are able to help. Whether it's educators, fellow students, companies or just people that have been there, there are tons of initiatives trying to ensure that 2012-2013 will be a success.
If You're a Graduate, Be a Role Model
Live Out Loud is promoting its Homecoming Project with new PSAs for 2012. The Homecoming Project puts queer adults that have survived high school in the lives and reach of questioning LGBT students. Much like It Gets Better, the organizers want to reassure students that those feelings, doubts and anxieties aren't abnormal and more importantly are manageable. Mentors sign up to return to their high school and tell students the possibilities that lay beyond their classroom doors. Everyday queers are invited to speak their truth and send the message that life goes on, because they themselves lived it. Even though they invite professionals to show that you can be LGBT and successful, they also want college students to show current students that grabbing their diploma is within their grasp even when it may not seem that way.
If You're a Friend, Lend an Ear
The Trevor Project is re-promoting its ongoing campaigns with new media, merchandise and mentors for Suicide Prevention Month. They want to open up lines of communication for the youth that need it most. Something as simple as a note can someone realize they aren't as isolated as they imagine. By having friends, family and loved ones remind teens that they're surrounded by people that care, hopefully more kids will make it to their graduation instead of their funeral this coming year. The Trevor Project has designated September 27th as The Trevor Project Day, urging friends and allies of bullied teens to simply ask them to, "Talk to Me." Everyone's invited to join their note gallery and show others just how easy it to give a lifesaving message.
If You're an Organizer, Make a Plan
The Queer Youth Fund announced its 2012 grant winners earlier this year and announced its guidelines for 2013. The Liberty Hill Foundation's Queer Youth Fund awards $100,000 multi-year grants to North American organizations that are striving to make a difference for LGBTQ people that are under the age of 25. If you have ever imagined a better future for queer youth and think you have a plan, why not apply? If you want to be eligible for a 2013 grant, simply submit a letter of intent by October 15th. This year the five causes that won over the Liberty Hill Foundation were the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, the Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County, the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, the Life Foundation, Inc and Out Now, Inc. You can help start a change too!
If You've Got Money, Make a Donation
If you happen to be incredibly wealthy and eager to fund LGBT causes, George Clooney has offered up a date with himself to help raise funds for GLSEN. If you've always daydreamed about grabbing a bite with Danny Ocean while ensuring that queer high school students find safe spaces and learn to stand up against discrimination, this is your opportunity. The price tag is projected to surpass $20,000, so if that's too steep for you, you could always donate a manageable amount or your time instead.
If You're a Student, Take a Stand
It's always easy to forget that youth can make the greatest difference in their own lives. GLSEN has a guide for students to start their own Gay-Straight Alliance if someone hasn't started one already. It all has to start somewhere, so if you're brave and strong enough, why not make make a difference for everyone around you?
It doesn't take much to show compassion and guidance to queer youth, but it really does make a ton of difference.