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(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.
Communities - LGBTQ - Sin - Suicide
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 — but being a part of one increases the risk of an early, tragic death for LGBTQ youth.
Contrast - Participation - Community - Risk - Suicide
In sharp contrast, participation in a religious community decreases the risk of suicide for heterosexual people.
What is different about the treatment of LGBTQ people in religious communities that creates such tragedies?
Family - Church - LGBTQ - Sin - LGBTQ
My family once belonged to a church that taught being LGBTQ was a sin. Like so many other LGBTQ youth, Tyler must have felt rejected, unwanted and shamed. My son did not believe he could be both Christian and gay.
When theology is used to inflict harm and exert power over vulnerable people like my son, it becomes religious bullying. Church teachings are used as social and political weapons to exclude, degrade and dismiss LGBTQ people.
Irony - Communities - Bullying - Houses - Worship
The irony is that religious communities are uniquely positioned not only to end bullying in their houses of worship,...
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