Jane Clementi, the mother of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide in 2010 after learning that his roommate had videorecorded him kissing another man, has offered words of wisdom in the wake of the suicide of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn.
“We as a culture must teach the lesson each day that all life has value and has purpose — especially the lives of all young people, regardless of who they are,” she said in a statement from her family's antibullying nonprofit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation. “That’s an irrevocable value. The only way to make a difference in this world — to truly change hearts and minds — is through celebrating and accepting every life.”
In her public suicide note, which has now reached people on all corners of the globe, Alcorn, stated that her death needed to "mean something." Alcorn set up the note to post automatically to her blog hours after she stepped in front of a moving truck on December 28, 2014. In the post, she detailed how being denied her trans identity by her devoutly Christian household, conversion therapist, and community had influenced the decision to end her life.
Clementi also expressed compassion towards Alcorn's parents, who have faced much public anger for not acknowledging their child's name and gender identity and for reportedly sending her to reparative therapy. As Dan Savage stated on Twitter, expressing a sentiment shared by many, "If Tyler Clement[i]'s roommates could be prosecuted — and he was — then the parents of #LeelahAlcorn can & should be."
“Nobody knows better than my family that ending life cannot create change," Clementi's statement concludes. "After Tyler took his life, our mission has been to ensure that no family endures the pain that Tyler and Leelah both endured and that we are sure that the Alcorns are experiencing. It’s only by building a world where every life is sacred that we move forward.”
In the weeks following Alcorn's death, LGBT youth advocates worldwide have been rallying to honor her wishes and give as much meaning to her passing as possible. Many have taken part in vigils, signed petitions to end reparative therapy, drawn on leadership positions to take public stands, and begun the difficult work of asking how society at large can address the overwhelming prevelance of suicide among trans and LGBT teens — which currently stands at about four times the rate of non-LGBT youth.