This is a common refrain that you hear. “It Gets Better.” I do think that it’s important to tell people this. A lot of people have a hard time even going on if they think that it’s never going to get better for them when their lives are going downhill. A lot of people struggle when it comes to motivating themselves to fight oppression if they think that nothing that they do will ever make a difference of any kind.
However, you can’t just tell people that it gets better. You can’t just say that it’s true. You have to actually find a way to bring about a world where it gets better as an activist.
Saying that it’s true does help. There are plenty of LGBT people and members of oppressed groups who manage to live very happy lives in spite of the difficulties that they face. Things also have gotten better in a real way.
The It Gets Better Project was actually founded in 2010. It has become a staple of pop culture since then. Things really have gotten better since 2010. Gay marriage is now legal. There are more high-profile trans women in the media now and more trans celebrities and characters.
However, the horrific hate crimes that have occurred throughout the last several years, including the major attack at the Pulse Nightclub, have shown us that the battle is far from over. Hate crimes against LGBT people are still going on. Trans people are getting threatened by bathroom bills that seem to target them personally, and that largely are just about pure expressions of transphobia.
Allies and activists have to work to change this world. We have to make it clear that the world does get better because we made it better. Telling LGBT youth that it gets better in the 1970’s would have been a weak statement to make. It’s not a coincidence that a project like this started in 2010, after decades of LGBT rights progress had been made.
Bullying within a school environment is often uniquely awful. Adults who bullied each other like that would get charged with assault, even though there are plenty of adults who get cleared of assault charges. Many LGBT kids who graduated still did find that things got better for them specifically because the school environment has a way of concentrating prejudice against LGBT people.
Adults need to conquer this sort of prejudice on a societal level and within schools. It should not just get better. LGBT kids should have the same experience as privileged kids. We can tell them that it gets better. We can try to give them strength. We can talk about the fact that some of the issues that they are experiencing now will disappear as they reach adulthood. However, they should not have to rely on their personal strength and they should not have to settle for the progress that we have already made.