July 7, 2014 – FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. (JTA) — Every parent imagines and treasures a child’s first words, first steps, first love. Our children will graduate high school and then college, find their passion, marry their sweetheart, have children of their own.
There are also things a parent privately dreads. In 2010, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a first-year student at Rutgers University, jumped off the George Washington Bridge after students taunted and bullied him for being gay.
I was shocked by his suicide. Tyler went to high school with my daughter. Yet Tyler’s pain had been invisible to us. How did we fail him?
Tremendous strides have been made in ensuring the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our nation in the last two decades. Yet prejudice and hatred still exist. In the United States, much legislation has been written to try to protect the rights of LGBT people, but our laws aren’t comprehensive, and much more needs to be done. Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and counting, but in many places children like Tyler still live in fear and shame.