NEW YORK — Leading Christian advocate for LGBTQ affirmation in faith communities, Justin Lee, will join the team at the Tyler Clementi Foundation as the anti-bullying nonprofit launches its effort to end religious-based bullying.
Through the True Faith Doesn’t Bully Campaign, Lee and the foundation will work to change the conversation about LGBTQ people in congregations across the country so that houses of worship are places where children and teens are treated with respect and kindness, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
“In my own life, faith has been a powerful and important refuge in times of bullying. But when faith itself is used to bully, it can become a weapon of terrifying psychological destruction,” said Justin Lee, a consultant on faith-based bullying at the foundation and executive director of Nuance Ministries. “For 20 years, I’ve worked within Christian communities to stop faith-based bullying and change harmful messages about LGBTQ people. As Americans, we may not always agree on matters of faith, but we all deserve an opportunity to live our lives free of the emotional devastation caused by bullying. So, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in this vital mission to end bullying of all kinds—especially when that bullying affects the most vulnerable.”
Lee is best known for working across areas of theological disagreement to promote grace and mutual understanding. He is the founder of the world’s largest LGBTQ Christian advocacy organization, the author of two books, and an internationally known speaker on faith, sexuality, and dialogue.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation was founded by Joseph and Jane Clementi to honor their son, a teen who died by suicide after he was the victim of a vicious incident of cyberbullying at Rutgers University in 2010. The foundation works to end bullying—online and offline—in schools, workplaces, and faith communities through the use of bullying prevention and education programs such as the Upstander Pledge and #Day1 toolkits.
“Faith communities must stop perpetuating the misguided teachings and traditions of bias, dogma and discrimination that devalues the human spirit and causes so much pain and despair,” said Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “I believe that love does not harm, and it should not be used to make someone feel broken, less than or separated from God because of who God created them to love, because being gay is not a sin. This life affirming shift forward would have a huge impact on the physical, emotional and mental health of our LGBTQ+ youth, and I’m excited for this opportunity to collaborate with Justin in this important work.”
The True Faith Doesn’t Bully campaign will include individualized #Day1 toolkits and tailored versions of the Upstander Pledge for specific faith communities. The campaign will also provide workshops for clergy and faith leaders and convene a coalition of partner organizations to end religious-based bullying. True Faith Doesn’t Bully will build on the work done by board member Mitchell Gold through Faith in America, which joined forces with the Tyler Clementi Foundation in 2017.
The Tyler Clementi Foundation’s mission is to end online and offline bullying in schools, workplaces, and faith communities. Founded in 2011 by the Clementi family in memory of Tyler – a son, brother, and friend – the foundation’s bullying prevention and education programs include the Upstander Pledge, #Day1, Upstander Speaker Series, Tyler’s Suite, Workplace Training, and True Faith Doesn’t Bully. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require colleges and universities receiving federal funding to prohibit harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.