Tyler inspired me to show young GLBT youth that it does get better as they get older. My wife and I have decided that it's important to share our experiences as lesbian moms so that young GLBT people can see the opportunities they have to create families of their own and weave themselves into the fabric of whichever community they choose. I want to make sure that there are countless communities from which they may choose.
I also wanted to use the same medium that caused Tyler and others so much pain in a far different way. The only way to drown out hateful internet chatter is by casting a positive light showing that GLBT family values very often mirror those of their straight peers. Speaking for Donna and myself, we simply want to raise healthy, well-adjusted children who give back to their communities.
Since I launched my blog in October of 2010, Out in Suburbia has been viewed by thousands of people around the world. It's also gotten the attention of Gay Parent Magazine (gayparentmag.com). I'm proud to be a regular contributor to this great publication. It's the longest running national GLBT magazine dedicated to GLBT parents. Sadly, I don't think Tyler ever dreamed the impact his death would have on our culture and how it has prompted real change in our schools.
Today, New Jersey's anti-bullying laws have been tightened and the state attorney general distributed guidelines to school officials and law enforcement about the anti-bullying laws to help them determine which types of infractions might fall under the updated statutes. Every school in New Jersey is now required to have bullying prevention teams in place.
I'm proud to be the parent representative for our children's school’s team. We will kick off our program next week using materials jointly created by GLSEN and IBM, my employer. We have timed the programs to roll out during the Week of Respect, starting October 3rd. That week will set the tone for the rest of the year, and it is our school's hope that it will improve the students' experiences and shine a light on the bullying problem.
Ironically, October is also National Coming Out Month. I pray that we continue to create an environment where more young GLBT people will feel they can be themselves and identify openly as GLBT, without fear of hateful attacks on their humanity. So next week as I read to each class and guide them in discussions about the importance of respect, I'll have Tyler Clementi in my heart, guiding my intentions. And, I'll take comfort that my children will have an even safer place in which to learn and in which their character can blossom.