RIDGEWOOD, NEW JERSEY – The parents of Tyler Clementi— the 18-year-old Rutgers University student who jumped to his death in September 2010, after his roommate used a webcam to view, without Clementi’s knowledge, the teen kissing another man—have decided to leave the congregation of their longtime church, citing its anti-gay views.
Joe and Jane Clementi said they felt that staying at Grace Church would indicate support for its views. They said that the church’s teachings contributed to their own hesitation about accepting their son’s sexual identity. “I think some people think that sexual orientation can be changed or prayed over,” Jane Clementi told the New York Times.
“But I know sexual orientation is not up for negotiation. I don’t think my children need to be changed. I think that what needed changing is attitudes, or myself, or maybe some other people I know.” The Clementi family includes another gay son.
Clementi’s suicide, and the criminal case against his roommate, Dharun Ravi, drew national attention to the tragedy of suicide among gay teens, a statistic that is five times as high as that of straight teens.