LOS ANGELES, Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The It Gets Better Project (IGB) was founded in October 2010 by Dan Savage and Terry Miller with a YouTube video that ignited a global movement. The video's message was simple: life does get better for LGBT youth. Three years later, IGB has launched a new video campaign in response to Russia's discriminatory anti-LGBT laws. Led by Ted Farley, IGB's first executive director, the Russia-focused initiative will bring messages of hope and support, in both Russian and English, to many of the estimated 2.5 million LGBT youth in Russia.
With the Olympics approaching, Russia will be the site of one of the most celebrated international gatherings in the world. At the same time, the former Soviet country will also be ground zero for an evolving human rights crisis, often resulting in violent discrimination. With a network of It Gets Better Project affiliates throughout the world, IGB has gathered international support for at-risk youth in Russia, and is committed to sending encouraging messages to a population that is in desperate need of hope for a brighter future. To accomplish this, IGB has partnered with LGBT advocates affiliated with Children 404, which is using Europe's largest social network, Vkontakte, to connect Russian LGBT youth to the international community. Supporters are encouraged to visit IGB's website and craft their own messages, which are then translated into Russian.
"The It Gets Better Project hopes to reach the millions of LGBT youth in Russia to show they have international support against the outright discrimination happening across their country," said Farley. "We want every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individual to know they are beautiful, valued and important, and that their friends and allies in the international community are keeping a close eye on their situation while working to end such injustice."
While this effort is the latest undertaking by IGB to send messages of hope, the organization has also expanded the services and resources it provides to positively impact the community at large. In the past six months alone, IGB has made a significant impact in the LGBT community:
- IGB International – Bringing its U.S. credibility and expertise abroad, IGB has expanded into 20 countries and now has 13 global affiliates. IGB provides organizational support and technical assistance to its affiliates with the goal of sparking international movements that focus on health and safety for LGBT youth in foreign countries.
- BETTERMedia – With well over half a million followers on social media networks, IGB uses videos, graphic content and original artwork to highlight the presence of LGBT people and their allies. In 2012, IGB received an Emmy Award for using media to educate and inspire. Recent collaborations with Archie Comics, Transgender Student Equality Resources and the LGBT history app, Quist, have brought attention to the positive portrayal of LGBT people in comics, the importance of being an ally for LGBT young people, and inspiring moments in LGBT history. All of this work is focused on letting LGBT young people know that they are not alone.
- BETTERLegal – With several committed lawyers on staff and more than 200 volunteers around the country, BETTERLegal pairs the personal stories and experiences discussed in IGB videos with movements for LGBT equality throughout the country. By partnering with organizations such as the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, this program has provided stories, videos, and valuable information to assist in legal cases, educational materials, trainings and equality campaigns.
To guide IGB as it continues its path of growth, Farley joins as the organization's new leader and first-ever executive director. Having worked as an attorney to serve LGBT survivors of domestic violence at New York's Urban Justice Center, and supported youth in foster care through The Alliance for Children's Rights in Los Angeles, Farley's background delivers on the organization's mission to inspire positive change for LGBT youth and its long-term vision to be a resource for the international LGBT community.
"I am beyond excited to lead the It Gets Better Project and its continued efforts to reach LGBT youth everywhere," Farley said. "Personally, I've been there – I know it can be tough growing up in a society that hasn't fully accepted LGBT equality. My goal is to continue the work of IGB's founders, board of directors and volunteers to positively impact the lives of LGBT youth, both here in the United States and in countries around the world where the situation for these young people is much more dire."
IGB collaborates with like-minded organizations and corporations including Wells Fargo & Company, Gap Inc. and Google Inc. to create a more welcoming environment for LGBT young people. Donations made to the organization go toward its various initiatives and expanded programs, with the ultimate goal of a safe, healthy and hopeful future for LGBT youth around the world.
To watch IGB's message to Russia's LGBT youth and to send your own message of support, go to http://www.itgetsbetter.org/russia. The site can be viewed in Russian at www.itgetsbetter.org/russian. To learn more about IGB, get involved or to donate today, visit ItGetsBetter.org. Join the conversation and connect: @ItGetsBetter, Facebook.com/ItGetsBetterProject, YouTube.com/ItGetsBetterProject, itgetsbetterproject.tumblr.com. #itgetsbetter
ABOUT IT GETS BETTER PROJECT
Founded in 2010 by Dan Savage and Terry Miller, the It Gets Better Project is a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization that uses all forms of media and engagement to reach LGBT youth worldwide in order to provide critical support and hope that life indeed gets better. Through the organization's messages of hope, international resources and guidance, collaboration and mouthpiece in the media, the It Gets Better Project strives to continuously make life better for LGBT youth. To date, more than 50,000 inspirational videos have been uploaded in support of It Gets Better and the LGBT community, including support from President Obama and 500,000 others who have actively taken the pledge to spread It Gets Better's messages of hope and speak up against intolerance. The Project has expanded its support of LGBT youth on both a national and global scale, serving as a resource on policy and legal matters. The It Gets Better Project is resolute in its mission to make the lives of LGBT youth, simply put, better. Connect with the It Gets Better Project: @ItGetsBetter, Facebook.com/ItGetsBetterProject, YouTube.com/ItGetsBetterProject.
SOURCE It Gets Better Project