TORONTO, Ontario, Canada — Students at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, a specialized public arts and academic high school in Toronto, broke into cheering and wild applause on Friday when the student council president debuted a personal video from Lady Gaga aimed at encouraging an end to bullying.
In her video addressed to Jacques St. Pierre, a Grade 12 student at Etobicoke School and self-professed “huge fan” of the pop music star, Lady Gaga praises his work to combat bullying, particularly bullying directed at gay and lesbian students.
“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you for being such a strong advocate of the LGBT community in your school,” Gaga said in the video. “There should be more little monsters like you.”
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In August, St. Pierre wrote to several celebrities — including talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, singer Katy Perry and Tim Gunn from Project Runway — hoping a message from one of them would have a big impact on students as the school launched an anti-bullying campaign.
Students at Etobicoke School of the Arts have been working to combat homophobia, racism, sexism and body image issues through performance, and plan to take their message to other schools in the Toronto District School Board.
At Friday’s assembly, students took a pledge to “make it better” — an extension of the It Gets Better campaign, reported the Toronto Star.
In his letter to Lady Gaga, St. Pierre told her who he is and about the school’s campaign.
“And then I talked about why it would be amazing to hear from her,” he said.
St. Pierre, 17, said he was bullied in elementary school by students who called him a fag for being interested in theatre and drama. He said his high school has been “amazing and accepting,” but there remains much work to be done.
Comments like “don’t be a fag” or “that’s so gay” are still common among teens, he said.
Lady Gaga has been an outspoken anti-bullying crusader in the U.S., outraged over the recent suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a gay teen from Buffalo, N.Y. teen who had been targeted by bullies both at school and online. She has lobbied U.S. politicians — including President Barack Obama — to criminalize bullying.
In the video, Gaga implores students to “treat each other with kindness, love, and to accept everyone.”