The first set of essays from the book It Get’s Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, & Creating A Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller, are essays from both people in well-known positions and people who are just well-known. (It Get’s Better Book Essays #1 Lesson Plan)
The essays that I choose to go together well:
- A Message From President Barack Obama
- A Message From Ellen DeGeneres
- A Message From US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
- “Born This Way” by Perez Hilton
- “You Are a Beloved Child of God” by Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson
The Three Messages
The first three, all though they are called “message” instead of being a straight up essay, talk about teens being bullying for being gay or perceived as gay and them taking their lives.
Since Obama, DeGeneres, and Clinton do talk about teenagers who’ve taken their lives due to being LGBT, an additional resource you may want to bring into this unit are some news articles for a reference point. Here are some news articles that may be beneficial for the discussion part of these essays:
- Tyler Clementi’s suicide as reported in People Magazine. Clementi had committed suicide after his roommate and a floor mate at Rutgers University recorded Clementi in a private setting of his room while making out with another guy. Once Clementi found out about this, Clementi committed suicide on September 22, 2010
- A second possible article that talks about Michele Bachmann and the 9 LGBT Suicides. This article takes more of a focus on political side of the suicides because of Bachmann. Regardless of the reason why the attention these suicides got, this article would be the great for the fact that it gets to the point of the messages that Obama, DeGeneres, and Clinton gave.
Here is Obama’s Message:
Obama’s message has an interactive transcript ~ if you got to YouTube to watch it ~ that would allow you to have your students to watch and read Obama’s message in class.
DeGeneres’ message comes from an episode of her TV Show:
Clinton’s message has a similar setting of Obama’s:
The Two Essays
With the two essays, Hilton’s is told from more of a first hands experience of what it is like being a LGBT community member and how that the process takes time to get out of the place of people mocking and picking on you. With Bishop Hanson’s essay, he writes from someone who can only imagine what it’s like being picked on for being LGBT and how it takes time for people who are bullied and ends his essay with saying that he trusts in God enough to use himself to help make it better.
In Class Discussion
For the in class discussion, you could lead the class in a discussion of how the messages and the essays differ and are similar in their messages. You can also lead the discussion how having these five figures who are high-profile ~ some, of them are in more of a position that’s more well-known than others ~ can create more role models. A third ting that can be discussed is the structure of the messages and essays and how that contributes to the over all effect of them.
The students should write a 1,200 word paper on the messages and essays that they had to read. The paper should have an argument about if the student either liked or disliked them and use examples from the messages and essays to help support their claim. The students should also be encouraged to use some of the in class discussion that happened to help support their claim.