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Boy enlists Red Sox for antibullying video

Team responds to 12-year-old’s bid to help gay youth

Sam Maden, 12, an avid Red Sox fan, recruited the team for ‘It Gets Better’ to help gay youth. Sam Maden, 12, an avid Red Sox fan, recruited the team for ‘It Gets Better’ to help gay youth. (Change.Org)
By Jason Woods
Globe Correspondent / June 5, 2011

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The Boston Red Sox will produce an online video for the “It Gets Better Project,’’ an antibullying campaign aimed at helping gay youth.

The announcement that the team would be the third major league baseball team to participate in the campaign came yesterday in response to a petition started by a 12-year-old New Hampshire boy who garnered nearly 10,000 signatures in a matter of days.

“The Red Sox organization takes the issue of bullying seriously,’’ the team said in a statement released by spokeswoman Leah Tobin. “It is something that has touched many of us and those we love, and it is a growing problem in our community. We are proud of dedicated Red Sox fans like 12-year-old Sam Maden who have taken the courageous step of publicly standing up against bullying of LGBT youth.’’

The team didn’t specify which players would participate, or what the video would say.

Maden, a Nashua resident, started the petition drive late last month after his seventh-grade teacher asked the class to come up with a project that could make a difference in the world. After seeing a similar campaign succeed with the San Francisco Giants, Maden’s teacher helped him create a petition at Change.org, urging the Red Sox to produce an “It Gets Better’’ video.

“The Red Sox are my favorite team, and when I saw the Giants were doing it, I really wanted to get them to do it too,’’ he said. “I see kids who are bullies, I see them everyday. I do what I can to get them to stop, and I thought this might make it better.’’

Maden’s idea was inspired by the unexpected death of his 43-year-old uncle Chris Nutile , who was gay, and died suddenly while traveling abroad in January.

“My brother would visit and he would often educate my children about causes important to him, he was a huge humanitarian,’’ said Tara Maden, Sam’s mother.

“When I found out about my uncle’s passing, I didn’t know what to do,’’ Sam Maden said. “This is something I can do to honor him. Uncle Chris knew how much I love the Red Sox and I think he would have been thrilled with the team making an ‘It Gets Better’ video.’’

The Red Sox become the third baseball team to pledge support for the project in less than a week, joining the Giants and the Chicago Cubs.

A spokesman for Change.org pegs the Red Sox involvement as a watershed moment for sports.

“Having the Boston Red Sox announcing they are going to make an ‘It Gets Better’ is a historic moment in sports,’’ said Brian Purchia , a Change.org spokesman. “We hope this leads to a cascade throughout the rest of professional sports.’’

According to Change.org, more than 10,000 “It Gets Better’’ videos have been produced since syndicated columnist Dan Savage launched the project last September .

Through “It Gets Better’’ videos, President Obama, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and corporations such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Pixar and others have responded with videos of their own to provide hope to kids struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity.

Jason Woods can be reached at jwoods@globe.com.