An ambitious campaign that aims to change the ways in which young people label themselves was launched last week in the form of a funky teen-oriented website.
The website Ditch the Label (www.DitchtheLabel.com) was ‘virtually’ launched last Saturday night in a co-ordinated browsing of the new site, after being advertised via its original Myspace and the founder’s personal Myspace sites.
The founder of DitchtheLabel is 17-year old student, activist and part-time model, Liam Hackett.
He developed the site primarily aimed at marginalised teenagers looking to break free from social stereotypes based on race, sexuality or gender.
The site aims to challenge negative stereotypes and provide a forum in which young people can share their experiences of prejudice and social labelling.
Based in Manchester, the prodigious teen first launched the website via Myspace in July 2007 and since then, the Myspace page has attracted more than 50,000 visits.
Liam looked into developing a more permanent website that would allow a greater expansion of the campaign.
The new DitchtheLabel site was conceived after Liam secured a business grant from the local Chamber of Commerce, who recognised the site’s appeal and potential.
He was only the second person under 18 in in his region to obtain a business grant.
Despite its early days, the website looks like it will become a flourishing internet resource for teenagers looking to break outside social stereotypes.
Liam told PinkNews.co.uk his own experiences dealing with his sexuality as a primary catalyst for launching DitchtheLabel and how he wished a similar resource existed when he was younger.
“The campaign hopes to change the negative stereotypes associated with labels of race, gender, sexuality, appearance and lifestyle and together, we believe that we can significantly reduce bullying and therefore, increasing self-confidence and feelings of self-worth
to thousands of young people worldwide,” Liam says.
“I myself have been subjected to bullying due to my sexuality and I grew up believing that being gay was wrong and disgusting.
“Since leaving school and meeting new people, I’ve grown to understand that sexuality is as significant as the colour of your eyes and nobody really cares anymore.”
The site has been met with overwhelmingly positive feedback as it is specifically aimed at teenagers who are coming to terms with their own identities and who are forced to interact with a wide range of people.
At the moment, a majority of the site’s supporters are American.
Liam says that school visits may be planned in the future. He also aims to expand the site so that it is largely more interactive and community-based.
Visit the site or get involved at www.DitchtheLabel.com.