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Increase in gay teen suicides needs addressing

Published Oct 9, 2010 6:23 AM

The recent number of lesbian/gay/bi/trans teen suicides requires all our concern. In recognition of this, community vigils are being carried out throughout the country.

New York vigil, Oct. 3.
Photo: Janet Mayes

Rutgers University held a silent vigil the night of Oct. 3 for 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a first-year student and serious violinist, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after he and a male friend’s encounter in his dorm room was secretly streamed online. Clementi’s death is but one in a growing number of teen suicides.

Another vigil hosted by New York University LGBT organizations and Delta Lambda Phi was held in Washington Square Park on Oct. 3 for Clementi, as well as for Asher Brown (Texas), Seth Walsh (California), Billy Lucas (Indiana), Justin Aaberg (Minnesota), Jaheem Herrera (Georgia), Eric Mohat (Ohio), Carl Hoover (Massachusetts) and Raymond Chase (a student in Providence, Rhode Island).

Any young person who is being targeted or bullied should be directed to the New York City LGBT Center’s Youth Enrichment Services (YES), a Safe Schools Program which provides staff training to middle schools and high schools throughout all five boroughs, New Jersey and Westchester County. This service and others like it (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) recognize and intervene when any student is the target of ignorance or hate.

Sexual identity issues need to be discussed openly in our schools. Several state lawmakers are beginning to introduce legislation to strengthen their state’s anti-bullying laws and create stiffer penalties for invasion of privacy.

Clementi’s family said in a statement, “Our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity.”