Back To School: The Homecoming Project

By: Christopher Donaldson

Back to school season jitters can prove stressful on any student. Will I fit in? Will I dread it or love it? Will I pull the right grades? But research shows that LGBT youth anticipate even more worry and wear than their straight classmates.

Nearly two-thirds (61%) report that they feel unsafe in school due to bullying or harassment. They are four times more likely to use alcohol, eight times more likely to attempt suicide, six times more likely to experience serious depression, and three times more likely to have regular unprotected sex than heterosexual students (Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez).

So what can you do to help? The Homecoming Project, organized by non-profit Live Out Loud, needs successful LGBT adults to go back to their respective high schools and talk to these kids about how it really does get better.

“Our goal is to create a support system for youth by presenting positive role models whose experiences serve as real examples of success,” said Leo Preziosi, JR., founder and executive director of Live Out Loud. “High school is a critical stage in growing up and creating your own individuality, yet so many LGBT youth are still looking for role models from our communities to help them in this journey.”

The program has already reached thousands of students in California, New York, California, Utah, New Jersey and Kentucky. Even Academy Award winning screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, participated at his alma mater, North Salinas High School in California’s Central Valley.

“When I first heard about doing the Homecoming Project, I had no idea it would be so revelatory. I had no idea I would see such great change. It’s been such an inspiration to me to see what’s happened here thanks to the Live Out Loud Homecoming Project. I know now that we are doing good,” said Black.

Watch Black’s participation below.

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