Making religious communities safe for LGBTQ kids

(RNS) — Eight years ago this Saturday, my son, Tyler Clementi, died by suicide after vicious cyberbullying at Rutgers University because of his sexual orientation. He was 18 years old.

Tyler was not the first gay youth to die after cruel attacks by peers, and sadly, he wasn’t the last. Study after study continues to find that LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk for suicide than their heterosexual peers.

And those raised in religious communities, many of which teach that being LGBTQ is a sin, are even more likely to attempt suicide.

Think about that. Religious communities are supposed to be a source of strength and love, as my church family was, providing comfort when my son died. But the fact remains that being a part of a religious community increases the risk of an early, tragic death for LGBTQ youth.

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