Saturday was a beautiful and sunny day here in Southern Maine, but I spent it inside. 

I had the opportunity to present a "know your rights" training to a group of students at Cape Elizabeth High School who were involved with their Gay, Straight and Transgender Alliance (GSTA). Because it was a small group, I had the privilege of sharing some of my own personal story with the students present. 

While talking about going to high school in the late 90s, it occurred to me that several of these students were just being born when I graduated. Their whole lives have occurred since I finished my senior year and began my undergraduate studies!

When I was in high school at a private, religious institution, it was against the student code to be gay or lesbian. Public schools cannot legally have rules like that in place, but many of the schools here in Maine realize they have to go the extra mile to help Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students feel welcome and safe. This Saturday, I met teachers who were a prime example of the kind of caring and compassionate professionals who work hard to eliminate bias and bullying in the hallways and classrooms across our state. The students themselves work to educate one another on how to be more open and inclusive. I get to show up for a presentation and take it all in. 

Bullying is this awful thing that those of us who did not attend school in the age of social media cannot fully understand. There's never a break and too often, LGBT students are targets. A young woman took her own life last week in our state. Allegedly, she was the target of bullying because she was exploring her sexuality. 

Stories like hers break my heart. Days like Saturday help it heal. 

Our sympathy to this young woman's family, friends and teachers who are trying to sort through grief and the wide range of emotions that comes with it. We've come so far and sometimes, it is not always enough. We know there is more work to be done and we are committed to doing it. 

If you are a youth who is feeling alone, confused or in crisis, please call The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 for immediate help or visit the Trevor Project online