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Clementi Center benefits LGBTQ youth

In the tricky, transitory time between high school and college, students may not always know where to turn for help. The Tyler Clementi Center, which supports coming-of-age youth, aims to bridge that gap here at the University.

The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act was passed in the Senate Monday. The document requires higher education institutions that receive federal funding to implement anti-harassment policies, as defined by each university. The bill will also set up a grant system for the universities to use to enforce the policies.

The center itself will serve as a sort of safe haven for young people who are in dark times. Victims, bullies and bystanders will be welcomed and informed by the open environment.

Though no one person is morally responsible for the troubles gay youths face, the University seems to have received a good portion of the blame in the particular case of former University student Tyler Clementi. The Internet and Facebook are, perhaps, common accomplices in these tragedies.

It is important to recognize that such tragedies are not individual occurrences, but warning signs. Since life in the digital age offers limited wiggle room online, digital footprints have already marked individuals in this technological battle.

Those who seek help are celebrated, but appear few and far between. Because, in all honesty, which shy, isolated students are going to put themselves out there by attending a lecture or symposium? This international “call to action” may not reach the right people at all.

Conceptually, mental health counseling should be interactive, interdisciplinary, and shaped through University students, not just faculty. Without activism in the student body, these banal seminars and symposia may miss their mark.

In order to keep the LGBTQ dialogue open, we maintain that action is key. Here at the state’s largest research university, incentive for student participation is a building block for any effective organization. If the center wants to achieve equality, it must be pervasive. Students should feel its outreach.

So we feel that action shouldn’t depend on the severity of the situation. All situations involving suicide are severe, and there can be no more discrepancy in the matter.

The University as a model for national LGBTQ awareness and equality is a surprising feat: Our school is the first to endorse a center of this nature. For the first of its kind, we have high hopes for smoother sailing online.

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