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APD to LGBT Youth: 'It Gets Better'

Atlanta Police Department releases a video featuring 23 LGBT officers explaining to young gay people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach if they can just get through their teen years.

The day after Atlanta’s mayor announced his support for gay marriage, the city’s police force released a video touting its support for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community and encouraging LGBT youth that “It Gets Better.”

Much to the approval of many in the pro-gay Midtown community, Mayor Kasim Reed signed a city council approved resolution Tuesday that supports marriage equality for same-sex couples. Previously, the mayor had said he was “wrestling” with his personal beliefs on the issue, while saying he was an advocate for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

But for the Atlanta Police Department (APD), such support has been in place for some time now. The video premiered Wednesday showcases APD LGBT personnel from many ranks, including a deputy chief, a captain, several lieutenants, sergeants and officers, as they talk about coming out, the difficulties of growing up 'different' and their ability to overcome it.

In the video’s introduction, APD Chief George Turner says, “We have several LGBT officers and high-ranking command staff here in the Atlanta Police Department who are doing outstanding work for the City of Atlanta.”

The 10-plus minute video features 23 of APD’s own LGBT officers. Sgt. Michael Graham says, “I never dreamed in a million years that I would actually become a police officer or that I could be openly gay on a police department. We get to participate in the Pride Parade; we’re one of the few departments in the United States that’s able to do that.”

The video goes on to encourage today’s LGBT youth to stand tall in the face of harassment and bullying with the simple message that life does get better and the APD personnel are proof of just that. It was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years.

Remarks Deputy Chief Renee Propes, “Don’t let other people dictate to you your happiness.”

The full video can be viewed here.

In 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.

According to its website, the It Gets Better Project has become a worldwide movement, inspiring more than 50,000 user-created videos viewed more than 50 million times.

To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community, and many more.

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