NEW YORK – Friday, October 12, marks the 20th anniversary of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old Wyoming college student who was beaten and left to die because he was gay. Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, lost her son Tyler to suicide after he became the victim of homophobic cyber bullying, expressed her support for the Shepard family and their recent decision to make Washington National Cathedral the final resting place for their son.
“Anniversary dates like this one are hard. Tyler died on September 22 and that day is always a dark one for me. My heart is with Judy and Dennis Shepard as they observe two decades since they lost their son to hate and violence. The Tyler Clementi Foundation is dedicated to creating a world where everyone is treated with kindness and respect, regardless of what makes them different.
“It is heartening to see the Christian community at Washington National Cathedral embrace the Shepard family in this way. The National Cathedral is an example of how to celebrate the inherent good of all people and lift up how we are all made in the image of God. It is our hope, here at the foundation, that more faith communities will affirm the lives of LGBTQ people and be a place where they feel welcome.”
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 flagship bullying-prevention and education program is #Day1. Other programs include the Upstander Pledge, Upstander Speaker Series, Tyler’s Suite, Workplace Training and True Faith Doesn’t Bully, a public education campaign that fights religious bullying. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, re-introduced in Congress in 2016, 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.