Tyler Clementi – it’s not cool to be mean

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Location: All across America , a commentary.

“No one has done more stupid things than me.”

We all say that to ourselves. I say it daily as I continue to do stupid things.

I am sure Dharub Ravi is saying it to himself over and over again.

This 20 year old faces up to 10 years in jail because he didn’t separate stupid from mean.

This lack of separation triggered his gay college roommate,18-year-old Tyler Clementi, to jump to his death. Ravi is guilty of a hate crime – bias intimidation. In other words, he targeted Clementi because he is gay.

I have kids this age. I can only imagine how many stupid things they do daily, and how many stupid things I would have done at 20 had social media, webcams, and cell phones existed.

As a gay man, I am not happy about this young man’s conviction, though fully in favor of it. I am not happy these situations exist at all. It is not easy coming out for many people. It took me much longer than some, as I hid from self, trying to fit societal and religious “norms.” Since then, I have learned – who cares what others think? And as a result I am far more tolerant and accepting of self and others.

Now, here is what I am happy about: societal and religious awareness. We are killing each other over and over again with our words and our hatred. We can teach our kids and parents that it’s not cool to be mean.

I have a straight friend in his 50s who carries inside him very painful memories from childhood. He was constantly picked on and harassed by other kids for reasons only children can justify.

To this day I watch daily flashbacks affect him. I told him recently, “I don’t remember picking on you as a kid, but I’m sure I did because we all did.”

Worse yet, his parents and my parents were best friends. Even at a very young age, I should have known better. There is no way to justify or rationalize anything I may have uttered in my youth. It is what it is.

Over time, as I grew, I learned to differentiate being mean from being nice. We all learn this lesson. We learn that well before we hit college.

In fact, I remember in 4th or 5th grade getting beat up defending a classmate who was getting picked on by a schoolyard bully. I am not a fighter, and it’s the only first punch I ever threw. Fortunately, one of the nuns stopped the fight before I was beaten to a pulp.

Bad decisions can’t be blamed on Ravi’s age. They can only be cited as bad decisions. He knew right from wrong. He made a choice. He made a stupid choice, no different than a schoolyard bully, not thinking it would lead to anything so serious, but it did. And he thought about it again and again since he tried to duplicate it two days later.

These bad decisions are the mistakes we all make, which beat us to a pulp. It’s upon our foundation of mistakes that our experiences grow, and upon these experiences our good decisions are made. It is the human predicament — the time continuum — where the state of human misery never changes, only the conditions under which the human suffers change.

Some of us don’t learn the lessons of life that need to be learned until after they kick us over and over again in the butt. This is a strong enough kick in the butt of another that we may take heed as a people and stop picking on others for their differences. Instead celebrate them and find similarities.

My heart feels for everyone involved. My mind tells me there is a better way to handle things, and my spirit and inner energy will do what it can to influence self and others with good karma, hoping it gets shared forward. Of course, I’m 55 now, and am starting to figure things out.

Gay teen suicide is an alarming four-times higher than the national rate in the already alarming suicide stats across our college campuses. Following are some things worth repeating from my column “I Don’t Like Queers, Period” posted here Sept. 28, 2011.

?Some Facts About Suicide:

(Author’s Note: Refrain from using the phrase “commit(ed) suicide.” Instead, use “died by suicide” or “completed suicide” when describing a fatal suicide attempt.)

• In the United States, more than 34,000 people die by suicide each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2007).

• Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds, accounting for over 12 percent of deaths in this age group; only accidents and homicides occur more frequently (National Adolescent Health Information, 2006).

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses (CDC, 2008).

• For every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, 2003).

• Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts Youth Risk Survey, 2007).

• More than a third of LGB youth report having made a suicide attempt (D’Augelli AR – Clinical Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 2002).

• Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (Grossman AH, D’Augelli AR – Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, 2007).

• Questioning youth who are less certain of their sexual orientation report even higher levels of substance abuse and depressed thoughts than their heterosexual or openly LGBT-identified peers (Poteat VP, Aragon SR, et al – Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2009)

• LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection (Ryan C, Huebner D, et al – Peds 2009;123(1):346-352). ? ?Additional Facts about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and

Transgender Youth:

• Nine out of 10 LGBT students (86.2 percent) experienced harassment at school; three-fifths (60.8 percent) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; and about one-third (32.7 percent) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe (GLSEN National School Climate Survey, 2009).

• LGBT students are three times as likely as non-LGBT students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22 percent vs. 7 percent) and 90 percent of LGBT students (vs. 62 percent of non-LGBT teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year. (GLSEN: From Teasing to Torment, 2006).

• Sexual minority youth, or teens that identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, are bullied two to three times more than heterosexuals. (Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH, 2010)

• Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89 percent) and gender expression (89 percent) (GLSEN: Harsh Realities, The Experiences of Transgender Youth In Our Nation’s Schools, 2009).

• LGBT youth in rural communities and those with lower adult educational attainment face particularly hostile school climates (JG, Greytak EA, Diaz EM – Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 2009)
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are 190 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than are heterosexual teens (Marshal MP, Friedman MS, et al – Addiction, 2008).

• It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (2006 National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: An Epidemic of Homelessness).

• Further, 62 percent of homeless LGB youth will attempt suicide at least once — more than two times as many as their heterosexual peers (Van Leeuwen JMm et al – Child Welfare, 2005) ?

Finally, a great resource: The Trevor Project –  the leading national? organization providing crisis intervention and ?suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay,? bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

History of The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project was founded by writer James Lecesne, director/producer Peggy Rajski and producer Randy Stone, creators of the 1994 Academy Award®-winning short film, Trevor, a comedy/drama about a gay 13-year-old boy who, when rejected by friends because of his sexuality, makes an attempt to take his life.

When Trevor was scheduled to air on HBO® in 1998, the filmmakers realized that some of the program’s young viewers might be facing the same kind of crisis as Trevor, and began to search for an appropriate support line to broadcast during the airing. They discovered that no such lifeline existed, and decided to dedicate themselves to forming what was, in their view, a much-needed resource: an organization to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group. Thus, The Trevor Project was born, and with seed funding provided by The Colin Higgins Foundation, The Trevor Lifeline was established and became the first and only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Today, in addition to operating the crisis and suicide prevention lifeline, The Trevor Project provides online support to young people through the organization’s Web site, as well as lifesaving guidance and vital resources for educators and parents.

Geoff Rosenberger is a Broker Associate at Marketplace Realty, a Margate City resident and self-proclaimed visionary’s E-mail Geoff at geoffrosenberger@comcast.net or call him at 609-385-7585.

 

Location: All across America , a commentary.

“No one has done more stupid things than me.”

We all say that to ourselves. I say it daily as I continue to do stupid things.

I am sure Dharub Ravi is saying it to himself over and over again.