The Born This Way Foundation, Lady Gaga's new organization, launched at Harvard University on Wednesday, with the aim to create safe communities for young people who are being bullied or abused.
The Born This Way Foundation is inspired partly by Gaga's own experiences with bullying and cruelty as she was growing up.
“I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people, and my schoolwork suffered at one point,” Gaga told Nicholas Kristof in an interview for the New York Times. “I didn’t want to go to class. And I was a straight-A student, so there was a certain point in my high school years where I just couldn’t even focus on class because I was so embarrassed all the time. I was so ashamed of who I was.”
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The Foundation formally launched Wednesday at Harvard University, and the school's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and its Graduate School of Education are both collaborating with Gaga's organization, The Boston Globe reported.
Lady Gaga, a wildly successful entertainer with the most Twitter followers in the world, was joined by Oprah Winfrey, spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, and US Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius to unveil Born This Way's mission and aims. Gaga's mother, Cynthia Germanotta, will act as Born This Way’s president.
“When you see someone being negative to somebody else, it’s OK to intervene and stand up for someone that needs it," Gaga told a crowd of over 1,000 people that gathered at Harvard, ABC News reported. "I don’t believe that one person can change the world. I believe that humankind, as a whole, can change the world.”
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Gaga’s spokesperson said the singer made a $1.2 million personal contribution to the foundation, named after her 2011 album and hit song "Born This Way" which champions self-empowerment and has become an anthem for gay pride, The New York Daily News reported.
As part of the organization's efforts, a “Born Brave Bus” will follow Gaga's tour bus around the country, and will be open to anyone, even if they don’t have tickets to her concerts, to "meet with others and discuss love, acceptance and kindness," ABC News reported.
“The Born This Way Foundation is not restitution or revenge for my experiences,” Lady Gaga told the Times. “I want to make that clear. This is: I am now a woman, I have a voice in the universe, and I want to do everything I can to become an expert in social justice and hope I can make a difference and mobilize young people to change the world.”
Experts have called for schools to put greater focus on bullying and cruelty, which increases rates of teen suicide and impedes education, the Times reported, pointing to a recent study from the University of Virginia which found that when a school has a climate of bullying, the entire student body can fall behind academically.