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It Gets Better Project and Journeys in Film have worked tirelessly to get powerful stories into the hands and onto the screens of young people around the world.
The monomyth, or the “hero’s journey,” is a common plot template, first described by Professor Joseph Campbell, that can be found in thousands of stories. It begins with a hero, the protagonist of the story, who goes on an adventure. Eventually, the hero is confronted with a crisis, which typically occurs around the climax of the story. Once the crisis has been overcome, the hero returns home changed for the better.
Many It Gets Better videos follow the same story arc. They begin with a hero (e.g. celebrities, politicians, decision- makers, or everyday people) confronted by a crisis. For some, it is questioning their gender identity. For others, it is experiencing intense discrimination. For almost everyone, it is deciding whether or not to come out to their family and friends. Whatever the crisis may be, it is usually complex and, at times, seemingly insurmountable. But eventually, our hero emerges, coming out, finding a community that supports and loves them, and, most importantly, learning to embrace their authentic selves.
Educators play a pivotal role in guiding young people along their own personal hero’s journey. This guide is meant to help educators help their students. It is divided into six intersectional themes that influence how many LGBTQ people understand and express pride in who they are. The themes include coming out, community, gender, race, faith, and family.
This guide extends beyond the classroom. An “educator” refers to anyone who works to help young people learn and grow. This includes teachers, community leaders, club faculty advisors, parents, and more. The lessons are meant for those who lead groups of young people; the lessons are meant to be shared and adapted.
THE CURRICULUM GUIDE
Each lesson plan embodies a different story. The It Gets Better Project works with a vast network of skilled volunteers. For this guide, six certified teachers designed the lesson plans. They were chosen because of their personal connection to the theme (which can be seen in their own It Gets Better videos included with the lesson plan introductions), as well their experience creating outstanding curriculum. All are members or allies of the LGBTQ community. Because their experiences vary, so will their vocabulary and perspectives.
Approach this guide with a willingness to learn. Many LGBTQ adults are surprised to learn of the ways in which today’s youth are talking about gender, sex, and sexual orientation. Their perspectives and vocabularies are constantly progressing, as can be seen in parts of this guide. For example, the pronoun “they” is frequently used as an epicene (or gender- neutral) singular pronoun in place of expressions like “he or she.” This is on purpose, to show respect for diverse gender identities. It may seem unusual, but it’s encouraged because of its inclusivity.
Allies are welcome. By no means is this guide intended for LGBTQ audiences only. It’s intended for current and future allies of the LGBTQ community, too. Their love and support is greatly needed, as are their personal stories. As such, anyone who comes into contact with this guide is encouraged to make an It Gets Better video. For non-LGBTQ people, think: How have I helped make things better for LGBTQ youth? What message of love do I want to share with the LGBTQ community?
Lesson 1: Pride and Coming Out
Lesson 2: Pride and Community
Lesson 3: Pride and Race
Lesson 4: Pride and Gender
Lesson 5: Pride and Faith
Lesson 6: Pride and Family