Tyler Clementi’s Parents Leave Longtime Church
RIDGEWOOD, N.J. - The parents of Tyler Clementi say they have left their longtime church due to its views on homosexuality.
Jane Clementi could no longer attend Grace Church in Ridgewood because doing so would suggest she supported its teachings against homosexuality, she has told the New York Times. She took strength from reading the Bible as she reconsidered her views on the topic, she said.
Clementi’s son, Tyler, killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in 2010. His death came days after his roommate had used a webcam to spy on Clementi’s romantic liaison with a man in their freshman dorm at Rutgers University.
Jane Clementi told the newspaper that she had previously regarded homosexuality as sinful, and that she "wasn’t ready" to deal with the reality of a gay son. But since Tyler’s death, Clementi said, several friends and fellow parishioners have told her they have gay children, which they had been reluctant to reveal.
Tyler Clementi’s death garnered national attention and made him a symbol of the perils of mistreating young gays. His roommate, Dharun Ravi, was convicted in March on 15 criminal counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. He served his prison sentence this spring.
Prosecutors have asked an appeals court to give Ravi a longer term, finding his 30-day sentence too lenient. Ravi is arguing to have his conviction overturned.
Clementi’s parents say they still struggle to understand what prompted the promising student to kill himself, blaming the bad luck of a roommate lottery and the cowardice of students who failed to step up and say that the spying was wrong.
The family - including another Clementi son who has told his parents he is gay - is devoting itself to a foundation promoting acceptance with the hope of preventing the suicides of gay teenagers. But Jane Clementi said she has had to grapple with her role in her son’s death.
"People talk about coming out of the closet - it’s parents coming out of the closet, too," she said. "I wasn’t really ready for that."