Statement on the Tragic Death of Leelah Alcorn

Statement by the mother of Tyler Clementi reflecting on the Life and Death of Leelah Alcorn. Suicide of transgender Ohio teen has captured national hearts and minds; Second vigil set for tomorrow at Alcorn's high school to mourn, call for justice. Tyler Clementi Foundation Board Member Peter Drake, a survivor of discredited, harmful reparative therapy - which Leelah was subjected to - also offers his perspective.

 

 

 

“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. “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.”

Jane Clementi added, “Nobody knows better than my family that ending life cannot create change. 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.”     

“As one who has been subjected to harmful and discredited reparative therapy, as Leelah Alcorn was – I’m here to tell you there is nothing more painful than losing hope and self-esteem to the point of despair,” said Tyler Clementi Foundation board member Peter Drake.  “As a survivor who is now a parent, I know that our youth need affirmation from their support communities.  Our role is to learn to celebrate their unique gifts and personas; we must provide this love, and also protect them from harmful teaching.”

 

Jane Clementi, mother of Tyler Clementi and the cofounder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation which promotes safe, inclusive and respectful social environments for all youth. 

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Peter Drake is now an out gay man, with children he suffered the harm of reparative therapy – a harmful technique that is near-universally discredited, and is, in many localities, against the law - for over three years.  He serves on the board of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and has spoken out in many venues against this harmful practice, including the California State Senate Judiciary Committee, which later banned the practice in the nation’s largest state as well as in the media, including on the "Dr. Oz" show.