Mainers confront bullying, holding ‘It Gets Better’ event

I’ve known Betsy Parsons since I went to Portland High School. Last year, I caught up with her during the “No on 1″ campaign. When I read this article, I thought, “of course” Betsy is leading the effort. She’s terrific:

Bullying continues to be a problem in Maine schools, and some teens are taking matters into their own hands with an effort intended to shine a spotlight on anti-gay harassment and offer hope to kids who feel hopeless and alone.

Betsy Parsons is a public high school teacher in Portland, co-chair of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of Southern Maine, and coordinator for GSA, the Gay-Straight Alliance, a group led by students at over 50 high schools around the state.

“These are student clubs whose purpose is to lower the incidence of hate language and harassment in their schools, and to make that school climate a safer place for everyone to live and learn.”

Parsons says that nine out of ten Maine kids who identify as being lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) are bullied at school.

Nine out of ten. Wow. That’s just wrong.

The group is holding a day-long event today in Portland:

GSA members will be on hand today at an event titled “It Gets Better” at the Portland Public Library at 5 Monument Square from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Participants will be able to make their own videos to encourage bullied youth not to give up, and a documentary about bullying will be screened, followed by a brief panel discussion. The event is free and open to the public.

Thanks for leading, Betsy.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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