Saturday, October 2, 2010

High-School Student Brent Taghap's Tribute to Tyler Clementi

A memorial tribute to Tyler Clementi by Jesuit high school student Brent Taghap of Tampa:  a loure of J.S. Bach.

I am deeply disturbed to learn that there has been another previous suicide at Rutgers University related to issues of sexual orientation, after which LGBT students at Rutgers went to school administrators, according to this ABC news report. And were not heard.

This report haunts me because, as I noted in a previous posting today, I sought unsuccessfully to collaborate with a number of faculty at the university in which I last worked, to create a safe space for gay students on the campus of that United Methodist HBCU in Florida.  And I was punished for my efforts.

I call on the president of the historically black Methodist university in Florida who fired my partner and me to think now, in light of these recent suicides, about the needs of her students (and faculty and staff) who are gay and lesbian.  As an African-American woman with an openly gay son, one would expect compassion and understanding from this particular college leader.

And from Belle Whelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges, which accredits this university.  As I've noted, SACS routinely ignores complaints by employees of its member institutions about anti-gay discrimination on campuses of schools it accredits.

Dr. Whelan is also an African-American woman, and one would hope that the discrimination against which she has struggled as a woman and a person of color would sensitize her to the struggles of LGBT students, faculty members, and staff at SACS institutions.  No more young people need to die.  You who have power to change things in various institutions of higher learning: I plead with you to use that power wisely and for good.

Its time not just to talk about integrity.  Its time to exhibit integrity in your actions.

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