Meet Upstander Regent Empress XXXI Madison Ciccione Mansfield

Upstander Madison Mansfield
Many people may not familiar with the many things that the Imperial Court of New York does. Can you share a bit about it? 
The Imperial Court of New York is an organization that works alongside other charity organizations to bring attention to their causes and to raise much needed funds. Our membership is solely comprised of volunteers and everything we can and will do if for the betterment of our community.

The Imperial Court of New York recognizes the important work that the Tyler Clementi Foundation does in bullying prevention for students across all identities and abilities. How is the foundation’s work resonant to you?
At this time in America, it is vital to have an organization such as the Tyler Clementi Foundation. It appears that hate and bullying have become acceptable again. We as a nation need to do everything we can to teach people it is not okay to hate or to bully. We need to accept one another and teach compassion not hate.

Have you ever been bullied or felt like you were in a hostile space directed at you? If so, could you share what happened?
Yes, most definitely.  During my high school years, I became very shy and quiet. I understood that I was different and was coming to terms with the fact that I was gay.  On the bus ride home every day from school, I was called names, ridiculed and things were thrown at me on the bus and on my way home once I left the bus. No one stopped it or said anything to prevent this from happening to me. In my junior year, I finally had enough, and while I was walking home with items flying past my head, I stopped and turned around and said to the bully who has been doing this for years, “Would it help you if I stood still? Because you haven’t been able to hit my in all these years. So, maybe if I stood still, you could actually hit me.” Once I did this and stood up to the bully, he never again did anything to bother me. 
 
What do you think is the scariest thing about being bullied?
The scariest thing about being bullied is that you never know what someone is going through in their own head. Many people fight with overcoming their own personal demons, and sometimes, all is takes is one outside act of bullying or shaming to send someone over the edge. The results of this can be catastrophic.

tcf-social-upstander-madison-mansfield-tileHow should the community respond when we hear stories about someone being bullied?
The community as a whole should never allow bullying of any kind.  No one should be made to feel inferior, and none of us are any better that anyone else. We need to learn to accept one another and live in a peaceful manner, not one of hate and bullying.

Our #StandUpStandOut initiative is encouraging people to take the popular, free #Day1 toolkit to their communities, schools and workplaces in order to ensure commitment to bullying prevention through the declaration and pledge. How important is it to you that the community organizations you support and your workplace make a commitment to stand up against bullying, harassment and humiliation?
It is very important to me. I do not stand for bullying of any kind. I have been known for many years to be the person who will stand up for the underdog. Whether I like or believe in a person’s own personal beliefs or way of life, I truly believe in their right to be who they are. We must not judge one another. We must accept and understand each other.

Why is it important that people Stand Out to support bullying prevention?
It’s very important because we cannot be silent. Silence only breeds contempt and hate.  Standing up and letting your voice be heard is the only way progress can be made.

In your performances, your talents certainly stand out. What would you say to a young person who feels like they stand out because of who they are and might feel isolated because of it?
I actually have a friend who felt they were not being accepted because they like to dress & act provocative. I told them that they need to be true to themselves and to be authentic. If they felt they were not being accepted by those around them and that the were unable to change the minds of those around them, they should find a group that will accept them for who and what they are.

What can people expect to see at the Nobles’ Show this year? What are you excited about?
 What people should expect it a lot of fun, glamour, acceptance and love! The Nobles Show is when our “newer” members get to strut their stuff and show what they have to give. It is a way for the community to get to know them, and also, it’s a way for ICNY to get to know them better. Out of all the shows the ICNY puts on throughout the year, it’s The Nobles Show that highlights what were all about: Charity, Acceptance and Love for our community.


Regent Empress XXXI (31) Madison Ciccione Mansfield is the East Coast First Lady to the Americas, Grand Daughter to Queen Mother Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas, 2017 International Double Eagle Award Recipient – The Curvy Long Island Temptress of Serenity, Sincerity and Seduction, Her Imperial Majesty and so much more. Follow Madison on Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the Imperial Court of New York through Facebook and Twitter.


The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.

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Meet Upstander Paul Zemaitis

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Remember, just because summer ends, bullying doesn’t end. You can #KeepItCool with Enjoyer’s special strawBERRY treat – buy one and get one to share with a friend! Proceeds support our work to end bullying prevention. Find out where you can get an icy treat today!

What is the story of Enjoyer?
Enjoyer was established by two vegan friends. We knew how hard is to get tasty and healthy vegan ice cream so we decided to produce and deliver it ourselves. Our mission is to deliver healthy joy for everyone!

How do you see being kind to others fitting into Enjoyer’s mission to deliver healthy joy for everyone?
We’re always sharing free popsicles in public places like camps, schools, and youth centers. We want to show that being nice is cool.

What prompted Enjoyer to support the Tyler Clementi Foundation for this special strawBERRY support promotion?
It’s important to us that we are out in the communities fostering real conversations, encouraging people to share kindness each day. The Tyler Clementi Foundation is the best partner who shares the point of view that sharing kindness is a great way to change the world and end bullying.

Showing kindness is much more powerful than being a bully.Why is bullying prevention important to you?
We think that there is too much aggression in our world. We just can’t continue to watch people behave poorly to people different from themselves. Some people are even cruel to animals! Enjoyer’s treats are vegan, environment friendly, and healthy. We want to share this positive attitude and show that being nice, especially to people around you that are different from you in many different ways, is cool. It’s crucial to have all people understand that starting from when we are children, showing kindness is much more powerful than being a bully.

What do you do to #KeepItCool when tempers flare up and you feel like a situation is getting hostile online or offline?
If it ever happens that there are any unhappy or angry faces, I find out what is happening, apologize if it is my fault or I accidentally caused any harm, and send a box of our best popsicles. Calm and kind communication helps every time.

Can you tell us about a time when a friend helped support you when others were being unkind?
I remember when I was in school, I needed some help with my math homework. The teacher told us that she explained enough. It was very difficult, because it looked like everyone really understood the lesson but me. Yet, no one wanted to help me. When the lesson ended, my friend came to me because I looked upset and took the time to explain everything I didn’t understand in the lesson. That was a kind thing to do. I was so glad and grateful for such a good friend.

strawBERRY popsiclesWho do you turn to for support when you are having a rough day?
I have few options to recover after having a rough day. The first one is go to exercise outside. Fresh air and increased power every time gives me a flash of energy and cleans my mind. Second good option is to go to play with my dog. Running, wrestling or playing with a ball brings happiness for both of us. Lastly, communication with friends, where we are talking and listening, cooking food together, going for a walk or playing basketball.

If you could say one thing to anyone who is the victim of bullying, what would it be?
Try to stay away from that guy who might not understand that he or she is doing something wrong. Try to find some friends for support and talk with an Upstander (in your school or at your office) who will listen, believe and support you.

Today, what will you do to show someone kindness?
I try to be kind all the time everywhere! We need to be kind to the people around us. Just today, I helped my parents with some yard work so they could relax more. You can also find me feeding a homeless dog if it comes to my yard or watering my neighbor’s flowers when they are on holiday.


Paulius Zemaitis (Paul Zemaitis) is the founder and CEO of Enjoyer born and raised in Lithuania. Learn more about him here.


The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.

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Stand Up and Be a Powerful Force to End the Hate

Like many in the past week, I’ve been bombarded by images of torch-wielding hate mongers, portraits of physical violence and intimidation, and the tragic loss of 3 precious lives.

As I learned about the Charlottesville events, I thought about my family’s recent trip to Montpelier and Monticello. My goal this summer was to create a safe space for my pre-teen daughter, Marie, to explore the truth about our nation’s dark past—long discussions about Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and how they managed their enslaved people coupled with our own Virginia family history. I could not have imagined how quickly an already difficult discussion could become exponentially more complicated as the Charlottesville events unfolded.

As we watched the video from witness’ accounts, we cried and tried very hard to make sense of the senseless. The Charlottesville tragedy pulled the scab off a wound we all carry from our shared and complicated American history.

As a nation, we must get ahead of this type of hostility in our classrooms, workplaces and houses of worship by standing up to bigotry, vitriol and bullying in all its forms. We must recognize that students of color, students who embrace diverse religious beliefs, students across the gender and sexual identity spectrum, students of all abilities and immigration statuses—we must all stand up for them.

I shared with Marie that to me, being an #Upstander is to be a powerful, positive force in our work to bring forward justice, equality, fairness and compassion.

If you haven’t taken the Upstander Pledge, now is the time to take it. If you have taken the pledge, now is the time to share it with others.

If you are ready to talk to your children’s teachers or school administrators about how #Day1‘s bullying prevention tools are simple, easy-to-sue and effective methods to ensure your child’s classroom is taking steps to prevent hostility, then download the free toolkit now.

Let your community know that together, we can and WILL end bullying.

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Meet Upstander Francesca Murdoch

Francesca Murdoch with her parents at awards ceremony

The deadline for youth to enter the 2017 Community Access New York Mental Health Film Festival’s Young Filmmaker’s Competition is August 31! Get more information and enter now.

What are you most excited about doing in this next school year?
At the moment, I’m most excited about rehearsals for our school’s fall play, which is Is He Dead by Mark Twain, and for my language classes to start again. I’m studying Latin and French at school, but I’ve also grown up bilingually – English and German.
  
Where do you go for cinematic inspiration?
I get a lot of my inspiration from the courses I take, in school and outside of it. A major influence on me was a film camp with the instructor J.P. Morgan at SUNY Purchase, as well as Jonathan Bucari’s film club at the Lighthouse Theater in Armonk, and I also draw a lot from the acting classes I take at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute at the moment.
 
Still from Francesca Murdoch's short film

Still from “Intervention”

Share a little summary about your winning film short “Intervention” from last year and what inspired you to create it. See the trailer and follow the short film’s progress here.
The film is about the relationship between a teenage girl and a boy her age who struggles with domestic abuse, mental health issues, and social isolation. James, the male main character in “Intervention”, deals with an unbearable situation at home, is an outsider in school and has nobody to turn to until he meets Sarah, but even she doesn’t manage to save him. The idea actually came about as part of the film club I attended at The Lighthouse Theater, where I came up with the story with a group of kids my age. We were asked to write a screenplay to produce into a film, and although “Intervention” was ultimately passed over in favor of a more lighthearted screenplay, the club’s instructor, Jonathan Bucari, encouraged me to make the film after the club ended.
 
“Intervention” shares the importance of standing up and standing out when you see someone facing challenges to their mental health. How do you feel this is also important when you see bullying?
It’s important in both cases because people dealing with bullying and mental health issues can start to feel alone and as though they have nowhere to turn to. Knowing that there is someone out there who cares about what you’re going through, being able to talk about it and not having to be ashamed of it can make the situation feel so much more livable and so much more hopeful.

tcf-social-francesca-murdoch-tileHave you ever experienced or witnessed people being bullied? Can you share a little about that?
A close friend of mine has struggled pretty badly with bullying in the past, and it has been incredibly hard on him.  It is unbelievable how horrible people can be, and I hate the idea that anyone has to go through what he did.  

What resources do you think a person should have available to respond to bullying?
As a teenager myself, I think it is important to have someone you can trust and count on for support in your life, whether it’s someone your age, a parent, a teacher, or a guidance counselor.  If you feel like your struggle is being ignored or if you have to stand up against bullies on your own, it’s easy to feel helpless, overwhelmed, and desperate.  
 
What do you think are the impacts of a person standing out in a community that is often silent?  What about the effect or challenges it has on the person standing out?
Even if it is hard, and sometimes also scary, for the person standing out at first, their involvement can make it easier for others to step forward and to also stand up for others.  Having someone stand up for you can make a world of difference if you’re dealing with bullying and mental health issues alike.
 
Francesca Murdoch with cast of short film at award ceremonyHow do you think your film and this competition help to inspire others to speak out rather than be bystanders around issues of mental health or when they see bullying?
The Community Access New York Mental Health Film Festival’s Young Filmmaker’s Competition is so incredibly important because it gives kids and teenagers like me a platform and a place to be heard.  I think at this age it’s easy to feel like standing up or trying to share our point of view is impossible or pointless, but the competition, as well as my film, will hopefully show that teenagers have a voice that can be heard after all.
 
How do you think young people can be more involved in their own schools to encourage discussion of mental health?
There’s a group at my school called LETS (Let’s End The Stigma), which does outreach and raises awareness.  Involvement in clubs like that, as well as standing by people struggling with mental illness and making sure they know they’re not alone, are incredibly important ways of getting involved at school.  For many, there’s still a stigma attached to admitting that you are struggling with mental health issues, that’s something we need to change. If people feel they can talk about their struggles, they may be more likely to find help.
 
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve been focusing on theater and on acting a lot more recently, but I’ve still got a few short film scripts on the go, and I’d love to write a feature film, too.


Born in New York City, Francesca has always had a strong interest in the arts. Shortly before her 13th birthday, Francesca wrote and directed her short film, “Intervention,” which deals with a teenager suffering from anxiety and depression, and which has screened at a number of festivals across the U.S. Since then, Francesca won awards as the first freshman ever in Rye High School’s Zephyr Writing Competition for her poem and her short story, and she has learned to speak French and Hungarian. She continues to support causes that make the world a better place.


The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.

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Meet Upstander Maureen Kelly

Tarte Cosmetics Founder and CEO Maureen Kelly

Join others across the nation for #kissandmakeup Day on August 25! Learn how you can join the movement to end cyber-bullying today!

tarte started out of your apartment in New York City! That is amazing. What inspired you to create the cosmetics brand?
I was pursuing a PhD in psychology when I realized that life is just too short to waste time, so I followed my dreams! I’d always wanted to create fun, easy beauty products that made whoever wore them feel beautiful inside & out.
 
Please share details about the #kissandmakeup campaign and why you think it’s had such a profound response.
tarte’s huge social media presence actually helped me see how much cyberbullying is out there. Bullying isn’t just on the playground or in classrooms anymore. It’s scary, but people can be bullied anywhere & anytime now thanks to the internet. That’s why we started our #kissandmakeup campaign (don’t be mean behind the screen), which is easy to participate in:

  • After applying a fresh coat of lipstick, kiss your hand and place over your mouth. Post your selfie on Instagram using #kissandmakeup.
  • Please tag a friend in your photo, sending them a compliment and tag @tartecosmetics and @tyler_clementi_foundation
  • tarte will repost some of the selfies, sharing with their IG community of over 6 million fans

I think it’s really resonated with people because sadly, everyone knows someone that has been bullied, myself included. I’m a mom of two boys and we discuss in our household regularly. I can’t tell you how many heartbreaking stories I’ve heard since we started #kissandmakeup. I hope that by inspiring others to share positive messages on Instagram, people realize it’s cool to be nice, & that it starts a domino effect of kindness.
 
How do you see showing kindness to others playing a role in the quality of people’s lives? How does it play a role in your own?
Giving people the keys to feeling confident & encouraging kindness is a principle I have always stood by. Respect others as you hope to be respected! It isn’t hard & goes such a long way toward making the world a better place. Start by smiling more. Studies show that simply by smiling, it makes you & those around you feel happier & more secure. Compassion is contagious!
 
tcf-social-maureen-kelly-tileWhat inspired you to include the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s bullying prevention and awareness messages as part of the #kissandmakeup campaign? Why is bullying prevention important to you?
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, myself included! Not only have I seen it happen to my own employees, but I’m a mom and have sadly seen my kids experience it as well. When I was younger, I came home from school & there was no social media, so I could just unplug & didn’t have to deal with Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. 

Today’s landscape is clearly much different. Bullies need to know that there can be life-changing consequences to their behavior & this heartless, unnecessary negativity needs to end now. Not only does Tyler’s devastating story highlight those consequences in a very real way, but makes it clear that serious conversations about bullying – in all communities – are long overdue. The Tyler Clementi Foundation offers incredible resources that make it easier to start those conversations, getting us closer to stopping bullying once and for all.
 
How do you know when you see bullying?
Bullying can be as “small” as a snide comment or as big as physical abuse, but no matter the form bullying takes, it’s hurtful. It’s on all of us to intervene when we see it, which can take real courage, but it can also seriously change lives.
 
Women in the workplace often report experiences where they were bullied or harassed. You have incredible experience running a large company with a diverse team. In addition to the foundation’s #Day1 bullying prevention toolkit, what are other ways companies around the country can ensure that all employees across identities and abilities are treated with dignity and respect?
The tone of corporate culture is set from the top down. It’s so important for executives & managers to create a collaborative, positive environment. By enforcing anti-bullying policies, shutting down gossip, & standing up for their team members, we can create more respectful work environments.
 
#Day1 is also used in classrooms across the country to create safe space for all students, asking each student to be #Upstander to bullying and not a bystander. Should schools be taking a pro-active approach to prevent bullying? In addition to the #Day1 toolkit, what resources do you think a school should have available to prevent bullying?
Schools should absolutely be taking a proactive approach to prevent bullying. It should not just be the responsibilities of the students to stand up against bullies. Teachers should not just shrug off certain behaviors. There should be a focus on building empathy & teamwork among students. Additionally, school faculty can designate themselves as allies against bullying so students know they have an adult they can trust, & who will intervene if students need help.
 
What do you do to let your child know that it is ok to talk to you when they feel like they might be being bullied?
I always tell my sons that they can come talk to me about anything & I will listen, without judgment, to what they have to say. My #1 job is being their mom, & I will do anything I can to help them solve a problem – even if all they want is a sounding board.
 
Do you think bullies can change? How?
I think many bullies have the ability to change their behavior, but a big part of that change is by shifting the mindset behind bullying in society– it’s never funny or cool to tease or humiliate others. It’s going to take a lot of work, but once bullies recognize this & empathize with those they’ve treated poorly, the world will become a lot kinder.


Maureen Kelly is the CEO & founder of tarte cosmetics, a cruelty-free line of easy-to-use products packed with healthy ingredients that deliver real results. She’s also a Starbucks lover & beach bum! When she isn’t working on creating the next covetable new tarte launch, she’s at the beach with her husband & two sons. Learn more about Maureen and tarte on Twitter and Facebook.


The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.

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Download the Annual Report

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We wish to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to our generous donors, in particular those listed in the new report. We are delighted to have the opportunity to highlight their support and all that it helped us achieve in the past year.

In 2016, with their support, we:

  • Reached over 14,000 people through our Upstander Speaker Series and addressed diverse crowds ranging from 12 to 5,000 attendees at 35 different schools and corporate campuses
  • Engaged thousands of teens through our involvement with the AT&T Film invitational at the All American High School Film Festival
  • and helped co-launch an innovative Law School Legal Clinic to provide free, legal assistance to victims of online abuse

DOWNLOAD REPORT

Thanks to our generous donors, the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s free bullying-prevention tools are reaching more and more students and employees than ever before. To learn more, we invite you to view the report at your convenience, and hope you will continue to follow our work!

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The Tyler Clementi Foundation has officially kicked off a national search for our next Executive Director.

Please find the link to the job announcement here.

Please consider forwarding this announcement to friends, family, and relevant forums and list-serves so we can reach as many people as possible about this opportunity.

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Meet Charlotte Simpson

Students of Ridgewood High School Hang Pride Flag
What year of school are you in? What are you most excited about for the summer?
I just finished my junior year of Ridgewood High School. I like to keep busy over the summer, and right now I am really excited to be in the pit orchestra for our summer high school musical, The Pajama Game.

What got you to join the Ridgewood High School Gay-Straight Alliance? What do you feel like the impact of that program has been for you?
I joined the Gay-Straight Alliance my freshman year. At the time I had friends who were a part of the LGBTQ+ community and I thought joining the club would be a good way for me to provide them with support. From there, I became passionate about activism. At the time, gay marriage was not yet nationally legal, and this was the main injustice that made me want to work hard to create a safe place for LGBTQ+ students in the school as well as do something to make the school environment a better place for them.

I became a co-leader of the GSA my sophomore year and worked hard to give the club more of an activist atmosphere and make it a safer place for the LGBT youth in the school. The club has had a tremendous impact on me these past two years. Not only has it taught me about leadership and responsibility, but it has also taught me to work hard for what I am passionate about. I think the club has really thrived this past year, raising money for the New Jersey Pride Center, selling pride flags to the community, having over 270 participants for day of silence, and, finally, being the first school in Bergen county to raise the pride flag in celebration of Pride Month.

Making Change is Difficult, But It Is Far From ImpossibleWhat prompted you to bring the raising of the pride flag to the attention of the school? What was that process like? How did your friends and other GSA members support you?
Beginning in May, the GSA was running a pride flag sale at the school in support of Pride Month. Another teacher of mine asked me if we were planning on putting the flag up outside of the school, and I thought it was an amazing idea. I brought the idea to the club’s teacher advisor, Ms. Soucy, and together we brought it to the principal, Dr. Gorman. The idea was met with little resistance. At first there were concerns of backlash from the community and worry that the flag would be seen as a political statement. After discussing further, Dr. Gorman, Ms. Soucy and I decided the flag was not political, but instead a necessary declaration of support and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ youth in the school and community. The process included countless emails and planning, but with a lot of hours and work, the flag went up about 2 weeks, which I think is amazing!

Since the flag has gone up, the responses of the town and my classmates have been unbelievable. I worked with the hope that the flag would make just one person feel more supported by the school, and now seeing how many people the flag has touched inside and outside of RHS, is absolutely incredible. I really could not have done this alone. Everything we do as a club is tremendously supported by all the members, and getting the flag up was no exception. Many members stepped up to raise awareness and express the importance of the flag raising. Without Ms Soucy, Dr Gorman, and the entire club putting in so much effort, this would not have been possible. To them, I am very grateful.

What does LGBTQ+ Pride mean to you?
Pride is a word that carries a lot of weight in my life. To me, pride is how someone sees and holds themselves. For so long, member’s of the LGBTQ+ community have been deprived of this crucial human right to be proud of who they are. As the world becomes more and more accepting, people of all sexual and gender identities can now, some for the first time, have pride in themselves. This new age of love and self-acceptance deserves celebration, and demands attention. Even allies to the LGBTQ+ community should be proud to live in a place where people are not belittled for their sexual or gender identification. I believe everyone, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, and so on, should be ecstatic to be living in this changing time where love can just be love.

How do you define bullying?
Bullying is targeting someone to make them feel worthless, ostracized, and alone. Whether the victim is targeted because of race, sexual orientation, gender identification, or for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time is beside the point. The intention of a bully is to gain power by stripping it away from someone else, leaving them defenseless. By harassing someone physically, emotionally, socially, or online, a bully is destroying the self-worth of another human being in the cruelest way possible.

Pride Flag Hangs at Ridgewood High SchoolYou go to the school that Tyler went to many years ago. How does that impact you?
I was just beginning 5th grade at the time of Tyler’s death. At the time, though I couldn’t fully comprehend what had happened, I could see a definite shift in my home, in the school, and in the town. When my mom sat me and my sister down to talk about Tyler, I couldn’t understood more than that a boy got bullied for being himself, and he shouldn’t have. Tyler’s death stayed with me until I could fully comprehend what had happened, and I realized that the town had been faced with accepting the pain that LGBTQ+ youth go through. The shift in the town wasn’t just a somber one, but one that strengthened the community. Parents, students, and everyone that was touched by Tyler’s death knew changes had to be made to prevent more heartbreak in the town. Walking through the halls of Ridgewood High School, the thought of Tyler sticks with me, like I think it does with most of my fellow classmates. When deciding how to treat people and how to help people, or even if I should hold open the door for the kid running down the hall with their hands full, I think of the impact my actions can have on the people around me. Tyler’s death taught me, along with the rest of the town, to consider others even if I don’t know them. Because anyone can be going through the same struggles as Tyler, even if no one knows it.

If you could share with him some of your thoughts with Tyler, what would you share?
When the flag was raised, many LGBTQ+ alumni from Ridgewood High School told me how grateful they were that the flag is up and about how much the school and the community has changed since their teenage years. I wish I could just show Tyler that things really do get better. It could take months, it could take years. But change is constant, and right now things are changing for the better. If Tyler could see the flag in front of the school and the community-wide support for everything the GSA has done, I hope he would be proud of how far our community has come. Knowing what Tyler went through, I want nothing more than to do my best to prevent anyone else from going through the same thing.

How often do you feel like LGBTQ+ people you know (and this may or may not include yourself) experience bullying? Have you ever experienced bullying? Have you ever witnessed it? If so, please share as much as you feel comfortable with and what the impacts on your life have been?
I have not directly experienced or seen bullying at Ridgewood High School, but have witnessed more of a general misunderstanding or subtle lack of acceptance for LGBTQ+ students or LGBTQ+ pride. One of the things I would like to do is spread education of sexuality and gender, and show how simple it is to accept others even if you don’t understand them.

Students of Ridgewood High School Hang Pride FlagDo you feel like you have a place to go or people to talk to if you have been bullied? Do you know other students that might not have a support system around them?
I believe that Ridgewood High School has an exceptional support system for students seeking help from the school, whether it is about bullying or any other issue. We have two incredible crisis counselors that many students utilize who are readily available and easily accessible. I make sure to make it clear to our club members how easy it is to get help from the school. I believe that the GSA provides a safe place and support system for students who may feel ostracized. I really do think that the students at RHS have extraordinary resources to seek help, and I would love to ensure that students at all schools could be provided with the same level of support, from their administration and peers.

What’s the thing you want an LGBTQ+ person or an ally to think when they see the pride flag raised over the school?
My goal in getting the pride flag raised was for even just one person to know that someone out there is fighting for them. I hope that when passing the flag, LGBTQ+ students who may feel unaccepted or on the fringe can be reminded that there is a safe place for them in the GSA and that the administration truly does support the community, which I think is inspiring. I hope seeing such a prominent display of support for the LGBT community can also help to show students, LGBT or not, that it is okay to identify as whatever they want, and that it is necessary to accept and support each other in order to grow as a community. Aside from the GSA’s intentions, I really hope that the flag inspires other students to stand up and fight for what they are passionate about. Making change is difficult, but it is also far from impossible.


Charlotte Simpson is a passionate and dedicated student, friend, and leader. Besides being in the GSA, spends her time as a Piccolo and the Flute section leader in her school’s marching band and as the historian for the Band Council. On the weekends she enjoys working out, reading and spending time with her friends and family. Follow her on Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Ridgewood High School student Lia Collado


The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.

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Keep It Cool!

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With the heat of summer comes a rise in temperatures outside and in our interactions with others. Tempers are more likely to flare, and the warmth can prompt people to act out with more hostility than they normally would and create situations where bullying, harassment and hostility can occur. We encourage you to ‘Keep It Cool’ this summer season with some tips, some fun and a commitment to join us as an Upstander in your community.

What does it take to ‘Keep It Cool’? It takes recognizing when an interaction takes a turn towards the hostile, step back if possible, commitment to report bullying, harassment or humiliation when you see it (or experience it), demonstrate compassion and care for those who experience it, and to actively engage your community to nurture and embrace all identities, regardless of religious affiliation, race, gender identity, sexual identity, immigration status, or ability.

Here’s what you can do now:

Share on Social Media

Copy and paste these tiles to share on social media with your community and let them know that it’s time we all step up as #Upstanders to ‘Keep It Cool”.

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Look for more tips in the coming weeks by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Take the #Day1 Declaration With Your Team and Share It Online.

Schools, universities and employers across the nation are taking the #Day1 Declaration to create safe space and prevent bullying, harassment and humiliation online and offline. Share it with your community today because #Day1Works!

Take the Upstander Pledge

Take the Upstander Pledge and commit themselves to being an #Upstander in their community.

I pledge to be an Upstander:

  • I will stand up to bullying whether I’m at school, at home, at work, in my house of worship, or out with friends, family, colleagues, or teammates.
  • I will work to make others feel safe and included by treating them with respect and compassion.
  • I will not use insulting or demeaning language, slurs, gestures, facial expressions, or jokes about anyone’s sexuality, size, gender, race, any kind of disability, religion, class, politics, or other differences, in person or while using technology.

If I see or hear behavior that perpetuates prejudice:

  • I will speak up! I will let others know that bullying, cruelty, and prejudice are abusive and not acceptable.
  • I will reach out to someone I know who has been the target of abusive actions or words and let this person know that this is not okay with me and ask how I can help.
  • I will remain vigilant and not be a passive audience or “bystander” to abusive actions or words.

If I learn in person or online that someone is feeling seriously depressed or potentially suicidal:

  • I will reach out and tell this person, “Your life has value and is important, no matter how you feel at the moment and no matter what others say or think.”
  • I will strongly encourage this person to get professional help.

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Tyler’s Suite from Lincoln Center Will Stream Live Online

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Want to experience Tyler’s Suite at Lincoln Center – even if you are not in New York City? YOU CAN!

The entire concert will be streamed live online. This is a rare opportunity to experience the powerful and moving music that makes up Tyler’s Suite.

To See the Livestream Performance: Visit the Tyler Clementi Foundation Facebook Page at 2:00pm EST on JUNE 4, and we will be sharing the broadcast live!

REMEMBER, you can STILL get tickets to the live performance, and if you use code DCINY25, save 25%!

We hope you will take this moment to show your support for the importance of Tyler’s story and our work to prevent bullying. Please consider a monthly gift of $10 or more, starting today!

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New Video

Jane Clementi speaks at the GCN Conference 2017 General Session