Gay Activist Dan Savage's 'It Gets Better' Anti-Bullying Campaign Not Working, Study Claims

(Photo: It Gets Better Project via The Christian Post)(from top left clockwise) The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; President Barack Obama; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson join the It Gets Better Project to support LGBT youth who are bullied.

Anti-bullying activist and openly gay writer Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" video campaign is not helping LGBT youth, claims a recent study.

A research team headed by University of Arizona Professor Russell Toomey surveyed 245 homosexual and bisexual young adults to see how they dealt with bullying when younger.

In an interview with the website NewNowNext, Toomey cited Savage's anti-bullying project as an example of a problematic strategy for youths dealing with anti-gay harassment.

(Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)Columnist Dan Savage accepts a special recognition award for the "It Gets Better Project" during the 15th annual Webby Awards in New York June 13, 2011.

"Our findings question the 'It Gets Better' narrative that's been given to LGB youth," stated Toomey, adding that "Asking youth to accept negative experiences as the only coping strategy potentially exacerbates stress."

Launched in 2010 by Savage and his partner Terry Miller, the "It Gets Better" campaign sought to combat the high rate of suicide among gay youth by showing videos of people offering encouragement.

Prominent figures who contributed "It Gets Better" videos include former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, actor Colin Farrell, actress Anne Hathaway, comedian Sarah Silverman, and former Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.

Toomey's research drew its sample space from the San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project and is expected to be published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

While the study has gotten uncritical coverage from multiple LGBT publications, an article on Stream notes that the research does not offer a strong critique of the "It Gets Better" campaign.

"It didn't examine 'It Gets Better' at all. It did look into the effects of 'imagining a better future,' which is only distantly related to the whole 'It Gets Better' idea," noted Stream.

"The study was a small one, by the way, and limited to the San Francisco Bay area. The report's authors noted that it wasn't strong enough to draw sweeping new conclusions."

The Stream story went on to speculate whether LGBT publications were willing to accept the study's findings because of a growing dislike for Savage himself, who despite launching an anti-bullying campaign still has a history of bullying those he disagrees with.

"And then there's Dan Savage's potty mouth and his non-stop bullying. Have they perhaps noticed his extreme profanity and his blatant hypocrisy, along with his failed promises of life getting better?" continued Stream.

"Are they embarrassed by Dan Savage? They certainly should be. Throw him under the bus? I don't know, but this might be the excuse some of them have been waiting for."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook