Meriah Doty on Friday, Mar. 2nd
“We’ve been talking about this for so long and it’s not working,” Lady Gaga said defiantly on the issue of teen bullying at a live-streamed event at Harvard University on Wednesday.
Suicides by young people who were bullied for being different—it’s a grisly trend that many adults seem at a loss for how to tackle. Recently, four teens in Woodside, Deleware, alone, have taken their own lives (though one is said to have not been bullying-related). A torrent of videos by celebrities including President Obama, have hoped to influence young people’s thinking on the matter. But the tragic trend continues.
The good news is Millennials are more accepting of those in the LGBT community. Fifty-nine percent of Millennials are in favor of gay marriage, compared to 46 percent of Americans overall, according to a recent Pew Research study.
This month the anti-bullying cause is being further championed by an ally who’s adored by young people, and may have the influence to make a bigger impact: pop superstar Lady Gaga.
With Wednesday’s live-streamed event at Harvard to kick it off, Gaga has formed a foundation aimed at empowering young people and to take her anti-bullying message cross-country. Named after her song, the foundation is called “Born This Way.” And yes, Oprah was even there to anoint the launch.
In terms of the physical pieces of the campaign—a basic interactive website with plans to grow has gone live. And a tricked-out, digitally-equipped Born This Way tour bus will travel to each one of the pop star’s tour cities as a civic engagement vehicle to draw out young people.
Gaga is the face of the organization, which is powered by academics, psychologists, “spiritual leader” Deepak Chopra, so called “empowered youth” leaders, and… Gaga’s own mother, to name a few who are working behind the scenes. They are loading up the bus and site with tools and best practices for using social media and storytelling to combat bullying and homophobia.
The idea, says Cynthia Germanotta (Gaga’s mother), is to leverage her daughter’s reach while deploying effective strategies containing best practices condoned by experts.
One area of the campaign that seems to be on the right track is the stories section of the site. The idea is to amplify inspirational stories for and by teens, which may seem simple enough, but may prove more powerful than any celebrity posting a photo with “No H8″ painted on their face, or a PSA-style video preaching at youth.
“Bravery to me means to fight my fears. To say no, and stand up for others when they truly need it. Bravery also means that I should be strong and believe in myself. Respect my youth, my sexuality and community,” writes Robin, a teen from Michigan, who submitted her writing to Gaga’s foundation site.
While the real impact of Gaga’s campaign remains to be seen, the 36,000+ Twitter followers the movement has gained so far appears to be a good start.