We’ve all been saddened by the recent suicides of gay youth, especially as tragedy has piled atop tragedy. Each of them is a signal that we need to do more to put an end to these incidents that destroy the lives of both the children being bullied and children who bully.

We believe the Internet can provide a safe space and resources for youth who are struggling with their identity and looking for help. And we’ve been happy to see products like YouTube being used to deliver messages of hope. There are many organizations out there doing an extraordinary job providing resources for LGBTQ youth, and we wanted to highlight a few as part of GLSEN’s National Ally Week: Trevor Project, GroundSpark’s Respect for All Project, the YouTube “It Gets Better” project and the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. GLSEN’s Safe Space campaign page provides resources and support for educators, policy makers, community leaders and students to take action to make a positive difference. We recently made a $50,000 donation to the Trevor Project, in support of the Levi’s Challenge Grant announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show—they will be matching up to $50,000 dollars in donations to the Trevor Project. We’ve also donated to GroundSpark and GLSEN. We hope that other companies and individuals will consider doing the same.

We also wanted to share a video some of our own Googlers made for the “It Gets Better” project documenting their own experiences and sending messages of encouragement to LGBTQ youth.

Finally, the Matthew Shepard Foundation has been in the forefront of LGBTQ issues educating the world and sharing the tragic story of Matthew Shepard. We asked Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, to share her thoughts with us on the recent tragedies and what we can do to help. Here’s what she said:
It’s been devastating lately to see so many families losing their LGBT kids to suicide and frankly, incredibly frustrating to see so many cases that seem to be linked in some way to bullying. My husband Dennis and I started the Matthew Shepard Foundation in the hope that by helping youth connect with resources, supportive allies and positive messages about their future, that it might prevent tragic outcomes like suicides or hate crimes. We’re just one part of a huge community of allies. And we are allies for all youth, whether they’re being singled out for their sexuality, or their race, or something else that makes them different. But if we can’t get the word out to the young people who really need to hear from us, and can’t make them more comfortable reaching out for help when they’re in crisis, then we’ll continue to struggle to protect them.

I’ve been out speaking at schools for the last 12 years to give these students a little hope and show them there are people they can turn to even if their own families aren’t accepting. I’ve also tried to open the eyes of the kids who are doing the bullying too—to show them the pain a victim’s family suffers. We lost a son, but the young men who killed Matthew are a sad example of how you can basically lose your life by victimizing people, too, almost as much as by being the victim.

-Judy Shepard
We honor the memory of Matthew and of the children who lost their lives this fall, and our hearts go out to their families. We thank Judy for her words and encourage everyone to work to help our youth to find safety and a better way to engage in the world—including using the Internet for the amazing good it brings, and not to bully others.