Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton has joined the YouTube internet campaign "It Gets Better" aimed at gay teenagers at risk of suicide.
Wearing a red dress and looking straight at the camera, the secretary of state says she was "terribly saddened" by the suicides of young people who were bullied because they were gay or thought to be gay.
"I have a message for you" she says. "First of all, hang in there and ask for help. Your life is so important to your family, your friends and to your country. And there's so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally. There are so many opportunities to develop your talents and make your contributions."
Clinton has been in the forefront of the Obama administration's efforts to expand rights for gay and lesbian government employees. She instituted equal benefits for same-sex partners of State Department employees, a move that encouraged President Barack Obama to authorize such benefits for gay men and lesbiasn throughout the federal government. The State Department also has made it easier for transgender people to change their passports and, for the first time, the agency's "equal opportunity statement" includes gender identity and sexual preference.
"Here at the State Department," she says in her YouTube video, "I'm grateful every day for the work of our LGBT employees who are serving the United States as foreign service officers and civil servants here and around the world."
"It wasn't long ago that these men and women would not have been able to serve openly," she says, "but today they can because it has gotten better. And it will get better for you."
The viral "It Gets Better" campaign now includes thousands of videos posted by people who have spoken out about the recent rash of suicides and, in some cases, about their own struggles with being gay, facing prejudice and hopelessness. The campaign was started in late September by syndicated columnist Dan Savage.
In her video Secretary Clinton tells teens, "So take heart, have hope and please remember that your life is valuable and that you are not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending their thoughts, their prayers and their strength. Count me among them. Take care of yourself."