The Out Loud Chorus, an Ithaca-based community chorus that welcomes singers regardless of sexual orientation, is the host chorus for "It Gets Better! A Celebration of the Dignity for All Students Act," an anti-bullying concert this Thursday night, October 25th at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Downtown Ithaca.
The 7pm concert will be preceded by a 6pm screening of the movie "Bullied," which tells of the experiences of guest speaker Jamie Nabozny, who was a victim of bullying in middle and high school. Nabozny won a landmark federal lawsuit against school administrators for failing to stop the harassment, and is a powerful advocate for safe schools. Also scheduled to speak is Lee Cutler, who oversees the social justice agenda for New York State United Teachers.
New York State's Dignity for All Students Act, which went into effect on July 1st of this year, seeks to provide students "with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function." The legislation expanded the concepts of tolerance and respect already in state education law to include "different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identity, and sexes."
Ithaca's Out Loud Chorus performed a preview of "It Gets Better" during the Ithaca Festival parade this June, and have been promoting this week's concert ever since. The concert will also feature performances by VOICES Multicultural Chorus, New Roots Charter School Mixed Chorus, Lansing High School Mixed Chorus, Lansing High School Varsity Chorale, and Ithaca Academy of Dance Performance Company.
After each chorus performs individually, all of the groups will join together for a grand finale performance of "It Gets Better," the uplifting song written by Jay Kuo and Blair Shepard two years ago in the wake of suicides by bullied members of the LGBT community. This will be the world premiere of the finished choral arrangement by Lisa B. Frost and Shawn F. Benedict, written specifically for this concert.
The event was originally scheduled to take place at Ithaca High School's Kulp Auditorium, but was moved to the United Methodist Church a month ago. During an intermission and following the concert, attendees will be able to gather resource materials provided by local organizations. The program booklet will also include 15 pages of information about local, regional, and national support services for youth and their families.