This issue’s front cover depicts the George Washington Bridge, where just weeks ago Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18, had leapt to his death following the streaming of a private encounter he had with another male shot through his roommate’s webcam. However, this is just one of the more well-covered stories pertaining to gay-related suicides in the past couple of weeks.
Take Asher Brown and Seth Walsh for example. Both were teens young in their youth who committed suicide after being bullied about liking boys.
What’s astounding about this is their age—they were thirteen.
And just this week, Zach Harrington, 19, committed suicide after attending a City Council meeting in Norman, Oklahoma filled with anti-gay rhetoric. In that meeting, a proposal was passed to recognize the month of October as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGTBQ) History Month.
LGBTQ youth attempt suicide at an alarmingly disproportionate rate to their non-LGBTQ peers. This is not a new phenomenon that just sprung up during the past few weeks. It is an ongoing epidemic that needs to be addressed not only by the LGBTQ community, but our society at large. This includes the Stony Brook community.
There is no easy fix in making Stony Brook a safer place for everyone, especially LGBTQ students. It is important to recognize that holding a memorial, or recognizing the deaths alone isn’t enough. That is a cop-out that does not change the culture of harassment that led to and continues to lead to the deaths of so many youth.
Change is not easy in this case, and it is not quick. There needs to be a concentrated effort by the administration to make sure that Stony Brook is safe for all of its students. It’s not just cracking down on harassment, it’s making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place; It’s fixing the problem, so that the problem never happens again.
Issues of harassment and bullying can happen to anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This isn’t an LGBTQ problem, it’s everyone’s problem. The university needs to recognize this and make Stony Brook a safer more accepting place for all of us.