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Watch Department of the Interior's Message for Teens: It Gets Better

Employees from across the DOI sharetheir experiences growing up as LGBT youth and coping with bullying, and emphasize the ways life has dramatically improved over time

Our colleagues at the Department of the Interior were so inspired by the videos they’ve seen in support of the It Gets Better campaign, that they produced our own. The video features Secretary Salazar and includes employees from across the Department, including the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and others, sharing their experiences growing up as LGBT youth and coping with bullying, and emphasizing the ways life has dramatically improved over time. DOI is helping to remind teenagers who face bullying that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.
Please watch the video here and share it with your family and friends.

Read the Transcript

Growing up in central Illinois I too was bullied and teased. I was harassed and picked on and called names and it didn't make me feel good.  

I think I first realized I that may be gay my freshman year of high school and once I started having those thoughts and feelings, the comments and whispers from my schoolmates became more prevalent.  

Junior High and High school were extremely difficult years I was subject to quite a bit of taunting and tormenting and sometimes physical abuse. 

As a lesbian youth one of the difficulties I experienced was being straight is being accepted and being lesbian well, often time isn't.  

Coming out was always a process of course and for me I was fortunate really not to be bullied although I heard a lot of disparaging things about people who were gay or lesbian.  

Well I was asked to leave my church. That was a that was a hard thing. I was very committed to my church growing up was a Sunday school teacher I loved teaching the youth. I was always excited about Sunday mornings and when I came out my church pastor and his wife sat me down and said we can't have you in our church anymore and that that hurt. 

My strategy was I deflected a lot. I tried to excel in everything else, I deflected a lot with humor and I threw myself into my career and my interest and excelled at those 

It's not -- the fear of having that first conversation is so much worse than the conversation itself it's that feeling of relief after you've talked to somebody and shared with them a little bit about who you really are really outweighs all the sort of build up getting to it.

Some of the strategy I took I came out to people maybe people I shouldn't have, but I came out.

As I matured a little bit more and realized how alone I was, I began to become more aware of the LGBT movement and began to educate myself on members of the community and the movement in general and I felt that it was a great disservice to the tens of thousands of LGBT Americans and allies who are fighting so hard for equal rights for all Americans that I was sitting here hating myself and I began to realize that all the dreams and hopes that I once wanted to accomplish could be accomplished. 

Big thing for me was the self acceptance. It took me till I was 35 to basically go through my life and wonder, "Why am I not happy what's not just wrong with me but what's wrong with my life?" I started to ask those questions and I started to do that exploration you know going on my motorcycle trip and seeing the country being alone in my head and thinking I came back with a renewed understanding of you know the only thing holding me back was myself.  

I would say that you know there are there are a lot of people who although you may not be sure how they personally feel they are very professional -- like the people at your school or people who are in positions of authority and and who while its really scary and you're not really sure how to talk about things that you know I always knew that if I was being bullied or if I was in danger of physical confrontation there were people who would have my back.

Life is wonderful now I'm very thrilled with the way my life has turned out and I'm so glad that I've made it through those early years that I that I didn't lose hope that I didn't lose confidence in myself.

I survived bullying in my school -- grade school and high school -- and college, and now I'm living and working in Yellowstone National Park. What could be better than that?

Life is so much better than high school. It's even better than college. It couldn't be any better I'm married to a wonderful woman. We have a beautiful daughter. I have a job I love. I have friends and family who accept me for who I am. I belong to an fantastic church. Life couldn't be any better than it is today.

Bullying happens everywhere in every school all across America. Make sure that you are seeking help and you're telling somebody about it -- where you tell your parents or tell a friend or tell somebody in your school. Things are going to get better. Millions of Americans have been bullied in this country and as you go through junior high and as you go through high school I can only guarantee you that it's going to get better.

It gets better.

It gets better.

It gets so much better.

It gets better.

It gets better.

Its gets better.

It gets better. It's so much better.