What happens to teenagers who don’t have any positive resources when they come out as or realize they are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, or Queer(LGBTQ)? What happens to anyone who is not given support during these years of change? They get to feel worthless, wrong, or scared. We’ve seen the news about teens and young adults who commit suicide after being bullied or labeled by their peers. It’s a terrible that anyone should feel unwanted and unaccepted because of discriminatory beliefs about their sexuality. But we can stop bullies and discrimination by creating support in our schools. That is what Amelia Roskin-Frazee did. She created the Make It Safe Project, which donates books on sexual orientation and gender identity to schools and youth homeless shelters.
What was your inspiration or what necessitated you to begin this adventure? I got involved in activism after I came out. When I got mixed reactions, I decided to start my middle school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and later became a Student Ambassador for The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
After the 2011 suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old who was bullied for being gay, I decided I wanted to do more to help LGBT students feel safe. The idea of sending books to schools came to me when I went to my school’s library in search of books about being LGBT and discovered that not only was there a lack of books in my school, but a lack of books in schools and youth homeless shelters nationwide.
What steps did you take to create your program? I spent hours combing the internet for resources that are good for LGBT teens. I read through dozens of books, both fiction and nonfiction, to pick the best ten to include in my boxes. I designed and maintain my website, raise awareness in media and in my school about bullying, reach out to youth homeless shelters, handle donations, and most importantly, talk to the teens who send us e-mails with their stories. Listening to what other people my age have to say is the greatest part of the project for me.
What obstacles were you forced to overcome? Every beginning organization struggles to get funding and publicity. Beyond those challenges, not everyone agrees with The Make It Safe Project’s goal to make schools and shelters a safe and healthy environment for all children. Many of the schools we send books to refused to pay for resources themselves. It can be hard for students to come forward and request books when they have been discouraged. However, with every new article about The Make It Safe Project, more teens find us and can get the books they desperately need.
What must you do to stay operational? I continue to raise awareness about the need for LGBT-related books in schools, frequently update my website, and reach out to youth homeless shelters.
Donations of any size are wonderful and helpful. You can donate on our website, www.makeitsafeproject.org. You can also simply share the link with your friends, on Facebook, or on other social networking sites. Little things like that can make a huge impact.
Who, if anyone, helped you succeed? While I am the founder and president of The Make It Safe Project, I would not call it a solo project. Every person who has taken part–whether they have donated, posted the link on their Facebook page, or shared their stories on our website–is part of the team. We are all working towards equality for all.
Do you have any advice for readers who want to get involved or start a similar program? Go for it. You can make a difference. Also remember that education is the key to ending bullying. Doing work with schools is enormously important. …This interview is from a book that includes 15 other amazing people who are creating positive change. You can read the full book and buy a copy for you or your school at Bookemon.com