Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that has become amplified over the last decade with the growth of digital technology. After Jane Clementi’s son, Tyler, ended his life due to a cruel cyberbullying incident, Jane and her husband established the Tyler Clementi Foundation to prevent bullying online and offline through education and inclusion. Listen to learn more about Jane’s mission to protect vulnerable populations from the consequences of bullying.
Jane Clementi is the Co-founder the Tyler Clementi Foundation
Jane Clementi (00:00):
It’s all about having conversations and we have to be proactive and have those conversations before things spiral out of control.
Speaker 2 (00:09):
All Inclusive, a podcast on inclusion, innovation, and social justice with Jay Ruderman.
Jay Ruderman (00:19):
Hi. I’m Jay Ruderman and this is All Inclusive, a podcast focused on inclusion, innovation, and social justice.
Jay Ruderman (00:30):
Jane Clementi was married to Joseph Clementi, and a loving mother of three children. On September 22nd, 2010, her life changed forever when her son Tyler Clementi died by suicide at the age of 18, after being the target of bullying.
Jay Ruderman (00:48):
From this tragedy, Jane co-founded the Tyler Clementi Foundation along with her husband, to raise awareness, to end bullying, and prevent anyone else from going through this. Jane, welcome to All Inclusive.
Jane Clementi (01:03):
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Jay Ruderman (01:06):
Jane, I’m wondering if you could tell us what life was like in your household before Tyler’s untimely death. How did he grow up? What type of household did you have?
Jane Clementi (01:21):
For me, I didn’t think that there was anything out of the ordinary about our household. We had a nucleus family of my husband Joe, myself, and our three sons, Tyler, being the youngest, and then two older siblings. Did what I thought was very normal activities, the boys went to school, they had extracurricular activities, each of them had very different interests and passions and I just thought that that enriched my life completely with their interests.
Jay Ruderman (01:56):
Now I know that you’re a religious person, I’m wondering what role religion played in your life before Tyler’s passing.
Jane Clementi (02:06):
Before Tyler’s passing, I was a spiritual person, religion was important to me. I definitely did take my children to a very conservative faith community, a Christian faith community, and it wasn’t until after Tyler’s passing that I realized that some of those messages that Tyler was hearing in that conservative evangelical church were very harmful for Tyler and that added to his struggles for sure.
Jane Clementi (02:41):
It was something that I didn’t necessarily even see at the time. Many of the messages were very subtle and very short and not even something that I even heard and many of the messages were even shared with Tyler in youth group and in Sunday school that he was attending apart from me. I wasn’t even aware of the full dynamics of all of the teachings at that church, which really shocks me now and wants me to wake up and wants me to share that part with other parents to really be aware of what the faith community that you’re bringing your children to, what they embrace and what they support, and making sure that youth hear positive, affirming messages always.
Jay Ruderman (03:26):
When did Tyler come out to you and to the family as gay? Did he come out just to you as his mother or did he come out to his siblings and his father? What was the reaction of the family when he came out?
Jane Clementi (03:44):
Tyler came out to me just, I don’t know, about 36 hours before he left for college. It was a short time span. I was really shocked and surprised that he was coming out, which is an interesting foolishness on my part I suppose because I had been waiting for many years for my older son to come out but when Tyler came out, I was blown away. I was surprised, I was shocked. I really didn’t know what to do with that conversation. Even though, I shared how much I loved him in that moment, I know there was something inside me that I was struggling with and I didn’t even know how to even verbalize it.
Jane Clementi (04:34):
I think Tyler embraced that or absorbed that as a negative comment. Even though, I was telling him how much I loved him, I knew that there was something I had to deal with and I had to come to terms with. He told me and I wanted him to share it with others and he said, “Well, if you want to, go ahead” and I didn’t think it was my place to do that, although, I did share it with my husband Joe, at the time, and he and Tyler had a conversation the next morning.
Jane Clementi (05:10):
To me, to my knowledge, that was all he had come out to. After the fact, after Tyler’s death, I found out my older son and he had come out to each other during the summer in July before he went to school in September. My middle son never knew until after Tyler had passed. It was a process he was just embarking on of coming out and truly embracing who he was but he had just really started that.
Jane Clementi (05:41):
He had come out to a few people at college, at Rutgers. He met some people on the floor, on the form floor, and he had started going to some of their LGBT support groups that they had on campus, sort of like Gay Straight Alliances. He did start that process but he had not come out to many people at school either. I think one or two friends from high school and that’s probably all.
Jay Ruderman (06:12):
Do you think he was excited to go off to college?
Jane Clementi (06:14):
I do. I do. He was very excited to be off to school and his siblings concur with that. I think he was excited for some freedom. I think he was thinking he was going to be embraced in a much more inclusive space.
Jane Clementi (06:33):
As we learned, being in that transitional time is also a highly risking time, it’s a high risk time, being in transition, not having the support of family and friends that you have had around you day to day to really see and who know you and can see your emotions that you’re sharing.
Jane Clementi (06:54):
As well as the fact that people don’t embrace the culture of the larger school right away. I mean, they bring with them their own biases that they’ve been exposed to in their previous location, their high school, their home, their friends that they had been with.
Jay Ruderman (07:14):
Let me bring you back to a difficult time, the date of September 22nd, 2010. I know this must be incredibly difficult for you to discuss even after so much time has passed but can you tell us what happened that day?
Jane Clementi (07:35):
You know, I’m not even clear even all these years later what happened and things got pieced together slowly after the fact. From what I had learned is that Tyler’s roommate setup a camera on his computer to live stream Tyler in a sexual encounter earlier, a couple days before, and then a second time the day before.
Jane Clementi (08:02):
As Tyler continued to read the jokes that were posted about him, I do think Tyler’s reality became very twisted and distorted. I do think in my heart that Tyler was targeted by his roommate because of Tyler’s sexual orientation but I don’t think that Tyler’s roommate gave much thought to how much it would cost another human being, you know, the great expense of embarrassing and humiliating someone in front of his new peers.
Jane Clementi (08:36):
I don’t even know why, to this day, why he would have done such a thing. Maybe it was to make himself more cool or more popular or just maybe to humiliate someone else. I’m not really sure. But one thing was clear was that he didn’t give much thought I don’t think to how much Tyler’s reality would become twisted and distorted in those moments and how Tyler would lose sight of just how special and precious he was because in that loneliness and isolation and shame, Tyler made a terrible decision.
Jane Clementi (09:14):
He made a decision that Joe and I can never change or undo. Tyler made a permanent decision to a temporary situation. On September 22nd, 2010, Tyler died by suicide. Tyler was 18 years old at the time.
Jay Ruderman (09:31):
Jane, did you have a chance to speak to Tyler either that day when he died by suicide or shortly before?
Jane Clementi (09:42):
I did actually. We were making plans to go for family weekend. Parents’ weekend, family weekend was that coming Saturday. We had a really long conversation that morning on the 22nd. It was funny because we had had several calls in-between. He’d only been at school for about three weeks at this point. Every time I called, he was either on a bus or he was just entering a class or he was going about doing something in the dining hall and there was a lot of noise in the background.
Jane Clementi (10:27):
This time, that same morning, I actually texted and said, “When you get a break, we need to make plans so give me a call” and he did. We talked for about 30 minutes I think on that day. We talked about the weekend, making plans, what to bring, what foods he wanted, what cases of water he wanted, all the things that college students want or need or think they need.
Jane Clementi (11:00):
We even talked about … He had a bicycle that he really liked. He had saved a lot of money, it was a very expensive bicycle that he had just started taking some really long road trips with and he wasn’t sure when we moved him in if he wanted to bring it or not and we talked a lot about that. We talked about how he had just gotten placed in the upper graduate school orchestra, all incoming freshmen are accepted into the orchestra, the undergraduate orchestra but you audition for a seat in the orchestra and instead of getting a chair in the undergraduate orchestra, he was accepted into the graduate school of music orchestra, which speaks to his gifts of being a wonderful musician and violinist.
Jane Clementi (11:54):
He also told me about getting … Because he got that placement, he would get lessons by a graduate student and how excited he was. Those plans and excitement really confused me after the fact. Some people that work in suicide prevention shared with me that sometimes it’s like a decision you’ve made and then you just put it in the back of your mind and you just continue making plans and then you just enact your decision. I had a hard time understanding that. I guess it’s just something I need to come to accept.
Jay Ruderman (12:39):
I understand, I’ve seen some videos of Tyler playing the violin and he was incredibly talented. As someone who has four teenagers and we’re always concerned about their mental health and what they’re thinking about, I guess what you’re saying is often when young people or anyone, for that matter, is considering taking their life by suicide, there’s often no tip-off when you speak to them or in the run-up, there’s no signs, what you’re saying, that would lead you to believe that this was going to happen.
Jane Clementi (13:18):
Right. I mean, sometimes there are, obviously, but I think it’s a false notion to think that there are signs all the time because … Maybe it was just Tyler’s mannerism, he was a very determined young man and that’s a great attribute to have except when it’s twisted and used against you for self-harm.
Jane Clementi (13:38):
He was also someone who was very self-reliant and would think that he could work his way out of any situation or problem. Again, a great attribute unless you get in over your head and you need professional help. I’m a proponent of professional help.
Jane Clementi (13:56):
He learned to hide himself. He learned how to hide his sexual orientation and maybe even his mental health status, and he was really good at that. Maybe, again, something that might be to someone’s attribute but when it’s twisted and turned internally for self-harm, it’s not a good attribute.
Jane Clementi (14:24):
Some people do exhibit signs. I know after Tyler’s death, I was extremely depressed and if someone probably looked at me, they probably would have noticed that clearly. But Tyler did not exhibit any signs.
Jay Ruderman (14:40):
Jane, the same month that Tyler took his life, four other American teenagers committed suicide after being taunted about their sexuality. I know that research shows that cyber bullying emerges most commonly from relationship problems, envy, intolerance for disability, religion and gender, and ganging up to feel excluded from a team.
Jay Ruderman (15:04):
I know the victims suffer long-term effects from anxiety, depression, and physical harassment and humiliation. When did you decide to start the Tyler Clementi Foundation?
Jane Clementi (15:15):
We had great media publicity around Tyler’s death at the time, as well as around the trial. I was in a fog at that point and not really observing that media attention. It was brought up to us by many of our close friends and friends of Joe’s, that we should harness that attention and start a foundation.
Jane Clementi (15:43):
At the time, I had no desire to do that. I had no ability to even think outside of the pain that I was experiencing. I just had this inner calling to say yes, okay, fine, you want to start a foundation, go ahead. It was not my thought.
Jane Clementi (16:02):
As time passed, I could see that Tyler’s death, as well as the death of those other teens at that time, did start a great conversation. It also pushed a movement of people coming out publicly and making their sexual orientation known. I think it’s really important to have visibility. I think you would probably agree with that. The more we see people that are different than us and interact with people who are different from us, we realize that we’re all the same. We all want to feel included, we all want to feel liked, we all want to be part of the group, or most of us. There are some that are more reclusive but I think it’s a common trait.
Jane Clementi (16:44):
As Tyler’s story gained momentum, I definitely could see that this was a good thing, that we definitely needed to use Tyler’s story to make change, to create online safe experiences for all people but, especially, those marginalized. Tyler was part of a marginalized group, being part of the LGBTQ community. We do have a small definite affinity for that community and a huge support and love poured out to us from that community but we really want to create safe online experiences, and offline experiences, for everyone, all marginalized people.
Jane Clementi (17:25):
Certainly, you named a few of the most high risk groups, those that are different marginalized because of they’re not part of the majority or people with disabilities who are different. It’s that fear of difference I think that most people react to and want to humiliate those people so that in that distorted mind of the aggressor they can rise up above someone else. It’s that difference that people usually often target.
Jay Ruderman (17:59):
Jane, now we’re more than 10 years since Tyler’s passing, do you think things have changed in terms of acceptance in the United States of the LGBTQ community?
Jane Clementi (18:13):
I think there has definitely been a forward movement, a positive movement with marriage equality, it has certainly made a big positive impact, but I do think we have much more work to do. I mean, just recently the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Philadelphia using a religious organization to place their foster children and adoption services and that religious organization will not place a child with a kind, loving, same-sex family, couple. That’s horrific, in my eyes, of course. That’s why we still need work. We still need to pass The Equality Act and make sure that there is not a lot of loopholes for faith-based organizations.
Jane Clementi (19:09):
There is much more work to be done. We are getting out of a period where, as a nonprofit organization, I am not a political organization at all, and I don’t promote any party or person but we had someone on our little screen in our home, on our TV, coming in and humiliating people all the time and youth are smart and they watch people of leadership humiliate and target and make fun of others that are different and that’s just not acceptable. That research showed it had an impact that increased bullying in school age youth as well.
Jay Ruderman (19:52):
You know, I want to talk about two issues. One is religion because we talked about how some religious teachings can sometimes have a negative impact but I know that you’ve had some positive impact in terms of the religious community in having bishops in the United States sign onto a letter to address bullying against the LGBTQ community. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Jane Clementi (20:22):
Yes. Faith is a strong component and resource for people, it helped me get through my darkest time for sure, but there is definitely still more work that needs to be done. We have a program called True Faith Doesn’t Bully because we believe that if you have true faith, you’re not going to use your faith against someone else to harm them. We have two big initiatives happening.
Jane Clementi (20:51):
We have letters of affirmation, which are letters of people who came out of the Southern Baptist Conference sharing the harms that those teachings have caused and now we are working with Father James Martin with the Roman Catholic Church as well and we created a statement, as you said, “God is on my side”, a statement for bishops to sign onto condemning LGBTQ bullying.
Jane Clementi (21:20):
We have had a great deal of support. Sadly, not from the bishops. We’ve had only 14 bishops sign on and three of those have been retired bishops. What we didn’t think was going to happen is that there’s been an organic embracing of this statement by many religious orders within the Catholic faith as well as individual parishes have now signed on, organizations, including major hospital systems that are in multiple states with hundreds of healthcare facilities under them, as well as some of the colleges and universities and some smaller schools that have signed on.
Jane Clementi (22:04):
To date, we have had, out of those, over 145 or 150 organizations like that, who have signed on, which have hundreds of people under them, which we think is a great testament to say to these bishops and hierarchy of the Catholic church, it’s time to change your teaching. We need to teach that being LGBTQ is not an abomination, it’s not a sin. That’s what our goal is, to change the teaching so that we can embrace the LGBTQ community.
Jay Ruderman (22:41):
You know, it’s interesting. Within the past couple days, the United States Secretary of State Blinken just met with the Pope in the Vatican. I’m just now based on this conversation wondering if this was an issue that was brought up in front of the Pope about having some leadership coming from the church in terms of accepting people from different walks of life? I don’t know but it would be nice if that was part of the conversation.
Jane Clementi (23:16):
Right. I don’t know if it was part of that conversation but I do know there was an outreach conference on Saturday led by Father James Martin and he received a handwritten note from the Pope, blessing his work and his ministry and to continue to shed God’s love to all God’s children as the Pope had said. There was a very positive comment out of the Pope. Although, out of the conference of bishops, out of the Vatican Council of Bishops, there were some very negative comments earlier this month about blessing same-sex couples and that maybe gave the pushback and maybe gave the Pope a place to say, “No. We have to share God’s love.”
Jane Clementi (24:07):
It’s interesting that there is this push and shove within this one denomination for sure. There are still many conservative Christian as well as Jewish faith communities that are not welcoming or that want to change. I know in New Jersey, there was a large conversion therapy organization that was shut down a few years ago called JONAH, which was supported by the ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn that would send their sons there to convert them, to convert their homosexual yearnings, try to change them, which we know, through science, that you cannot change a person’s sexual orientation.
Jay Ruderman (24:58):
Jane Clementi (24:58):
It’s an intrinsic trait that you’re born with.
Jay Ruderman (25:04):
Right. I thought that the conversion therapy movement was pretty much debunked. I guess there’s remnants of it.
Jane Clementi (25:14):
They close down one and another one opens up. I just went to a Tribeca Film Festival of the premiere of a movie called Pray Away. That movie is mostly based on Exodus International, the ex-Exodus International, which has been closed but do you know what that movie shows? They closed down Exodus and a new movement of Freedom March or something to that name, has been opened up. It’s like until we get to the root cause, until we change the teachings and traditions and get rid of the dogma, someone will recreate horrific actions like conversion therapy, which cause youth or even if you’re older, to go to conversion therapy, have an eight times more likely chance of suicide or suicidal ideation and increased self-harming behavior. It’s just teaching that self-loath and hate, internal hate, that’s just horrific for those people.
Jay Ruderman (26:18):
I want to talk to you a little bit about social media because I think the feeling with the people that created social media was that it was a positive influence for society and was going to bring all sorts of people together. Obviously, we’ve seen some terribly negative impacts of social media on our children, on many different people in society, people using social media to hurt other people or to debase them or to put them down.
Jay Ruderman (26:52):
I’m just wondering, having gone through what you’ve gone through and for the past 11 years been involved in this issue, what are your thoughts on social media?
Jane Clementi (27:07):
I believe that it is a tool and mechanism for good. I do think it’s only as good as the people who use it. We need to make sure we teach everyone to use it wisely and for that good that it was intended.
Jane Clementi (27:24):
But there are certain significant difference when bullying occurs in the digital world, because of the anonymity that some platforms provide, because things can go viral and be seen by so many people or even in your own mind, you think it’s worse than it is, as I think might have happened with Tyler.
Jane Clementi (27:44):
But also because you can’t escape it. Tyler had taken screenshots of the words and the jokes that they were commenting on. He kept going back to that. Because there was that trial, they did forensically look at Tyler’s laptop, this was in a time when you didn’t even have a smartphone. It was just beyond the laptop. Even that, his reality spiraled so quickly out of control.
Jane Clementi (28:14):
I think it’s all about being mindful of using the digital world for good and it’s even sometimes about slowing down and I always like to say, before you hit that send button, just take a minute, take a breath, reread what you’ve written and if you think there’s any way that your comment can be misunderstood or your comment destroys someone, I would really encourage them to rewrite it and maybe even discard it altogether. If that comment or statement builds someone up and encourages them, then I say push that send button and send out positivity and goodness into the world.
Jay Ruderman (28:54):
How significant do you think this social pandemic of bullying is out there? I would also ask you what advice would you give to parents to be aware of cyber bullying and how to discuss it with their children to make them aware of what’s out there?
Jane Clementi (29:16):
I do think it’s all about having conversations and we have to be proactive and have those conversations before things spiral out of control for sure. I think it’s important for parents to have conversations around what can be done, if their child experiences some kind of harmful messaging because with what research has shown, it’s not so much if your child is going to be cyber bullied but when because most statistics show that almost 60% of youth have been cyber bullied already so we need to make sure that we know the precautions, you know what to do.
Jane Clementi (29:59):
The really sad research that I’ve come up with is that 70% of youth who have been cyber bullied will not tell their parents about the situation and most will state that it’s because they’re afraid of losing their device and their connection to the outside world. Having those conversations beforehand sets the tone, making sure your child knows, “No, I’m not going to take the device. It’s not the device that’s the problem.”
Jane Clementi (30:26):
You might have to get out of the app that they’re sending you these messages in or block the person from text messaging because you don’t want to keep seeing those messages but you do want to stay connected to the world. In this day and age, this is the way to stay connected is through the device. You want to save evidence, you want to shut down that person that’s harming you, and you want to have conversations with someone. You need to have help, you need to talk to an adult, you need to talk to your parents, you need to talk to a teacher at school, especially if you know that the aggressor is coming from your peers at your school. At least, in New Jersey, the one recent Supreme Court ruling did state that if bullying is happening on the device and its impacting your time at school, the school can intervene to try to create a safe environment online for you.
Jane Clementi (31:28):
It’s really important for that to happen.
Jay Ruderman (31:32):
This was my next question about schools. What can schools do? I know, for example, my daughter who is in high school, that her school is very proactive at looking at social media, which I know is controversial in terms of privacy but social media is out there and public and if they see bullying, they take it up, they make sure this issue is handled within the school. Even if the bullying happens outside of the school.
Jay Ruderman (32:07):
What do you think schools across our country can be doing better to crack down on cyber bullying?
Jane Clementi (32:13):
I mean, I definitely think they should be monitoring it and looking through the social media of the youth and, certainly, if a student brings it to them or parents bring it to their attention, that they need to address it and start having conversations and dialog.
Jane Clementi (32:29):
I’m not about having punitive laws, that say three strikes and you’re out because I think that just makes that aggressor someone else’s problem. I think it’s all about behavior modification, social/emotional learning, setting the tone, setting the boundaries, so to speak. That’s one of our programs that we have. We have our day one program. It’s all about setting a boundary from the very first day. It’s about telling the classroom or the entire school, if it’s a principal or a teacher, that everyone is accepted here, everyone is valued.
Jane Clementi (33:06):
This is what our school is all about, inclusion and welcoming everyone, and no one will be allowed to target someone else because of what makes them different, because of their skin color, because of their sexual orientation, because of the language they speak at home or their body shape or their abilities or their lack of abilities. Everyone is welcome here.
Jane Clementi (33:26):
I just think it’s really important to set that tone and to be upfront about it and it’s not a magic wand but, at least, it sets the boundaries and then when someone crosses it and uses a racial slur or a homophobic slur or any other derogatory words or targets someone, you have a basis to say, “Remember, we all agreed on the first day that’s not acceptable behavior. Let’s reel this in and let’s address the situation. If you’re having a disagreement with this person, let’s talk about the disagreement, talk about what the problem is. Don’t humiliate someone else.”
Jane Clementi (34:02):
I think that’s an important boundary for the aggressor to have but it’s also an important message for the marginalized person to hear, that they’re going to be safe and welcomed in this space.
Jay Ruderman (34:14):
Are there other programs that the foundation is promoting that you think are important?
Jane Clementi (34:23):
Well, our very first program that we designed, I think is The Key and Heart of Us and that’s our upstander pledge because we saw that so many people saw what was happening to Tyler and they remained passive bystanders. We want people to stand up and intervene. We want people to be active upstanders. We’ve created a pledge. It’s not a one and done thing. It’s every situation you enter into, you have to think about being that one that stands up and intervenes safely.
Jane Clementi (34:56):
We never ever want anyone coming into harm’s way but there are many ways to be an upstander. You can interrupt the situation by calling out bad behavior or just coming beside the person that’s being targeted and walking them away to a different environment. If they’re all friends, just calling it out and saying, ‘That’s not funny. That’s not a joke. Let’s be serious here and embrace everyone and embrace everyone’s differences and be inclusive.”
Jane Clementi (35:27):
Or if the behavior doesn’t change or if you don’t feel safe during that, it’s about reporting it, reporting it to an adult. We have to make sure youth know that it’s not about tattle tale-ing. It’s not about outing someone. If you have someone’s best interest at heart, you need to report it.
Jane Clementi (35:44):
I’ve spoken at many high schools and afterwards, several youth have confided in me that they’ve even had suicidal ideations and many have confided in their best friend and told them, “Don’t tell anyone but these are my plans.” Fortunately, for these youth that have shared that with me, their friend did not honor that trust, they told someone and they got them the help they needed.
Jane Clementi (36:09):
We need to know what should be kept private, what is gossip and tattling, might be who someone likes or what they’re doing on a weekend that they didn’t want anyone to know, that should be made silent and private but things that shouldn’t remain private are self-harming behaviors or the idea that you’re going to hurt someone else, that you’ve been hurt so now you’re going to hurt someone else. We have to know the difference and we have to teach our youth the difference.
Jane Clementi (36:39):
The third most important thing about being an upstander is reaching out to the target, making sure they know they’re not alone, that they’re not isolated, that they do have support here and you’re there for them, you’re their friend. We think that that’s really important and being an upstander, sometimes is bigger than just the bullying situation, it’s about being an upstander by going to the voting polls, it’s by being an upstander and maybe getting up and getting out of really religious Orthodox places, spaces, conservative churches like I was in. At the time, I was barely able to put words together in my shock and despair and grief but I could get up and leave and not remain in that space. That, to me, is being an upstander too. There’s all sorts of levels to be upstanders.
Jay Ruderman (37:34):
If someone wants to get involved in the work of the foundation, what’s the best way to contact the organization and to get involved?
Jane Clementi (37:43):
Sure. Reach out through our website. There’s an outreach space you can click to reach out to us. We’re a proponent of sending out good messaging on social media so we love people to share, re-share our posts and to go to our website and take our upstander pledge. We think that that’s a great way and you will get emails from us, weekly e-blasts with what we’re doing and what we’re up to and how you can help by signing our upstander pledge as well.
Jay Ruderman (38:19):
The website is?
Jane Clementi (38:21):
Jay Ruderman (38:23):
Okay. Great. Jane, let me just end with you, how can we become a better society that does not have bullying? Is that an idealistic goal or can we get there?
Jane Clementi (38:40):
I do believe we can get there. I do think it’s about accepting differences, sharing, being more visible, having curriculum that shares stories. I do think stories are a great way to transform people and to change hearts and minds, so to speak, because teaching empathy, trying to see life through someone else’s eyes and through their lived experiences is key. I mean, if you hear someone’s story and you hear their struggles, it just breaks your heart and it helps you to extend compassion.
Jane Clementi (39:23):
I think that that is what’s really important with inclusive curriculums and using socially connected youth in schools to help change the school culture. That has been proven to be very effective. To get the buy-in from a few student leaders and then it will spread and become an organic upshoot of a new welcoming space, of a space that’s inclusive. If you can get the buy-in of the socially connected youth, that’s very, very helpful.
Jay Ruderman (40:03):
Well, Jane, thank you so much. I really appreciated this conversation and it was a tough conversation but it was so great having you as a guest on All Inclusive. Hopefully, together we can do our part to end bullying in our society.
Jane Clementi (40:19):
Thank you. I hope so.
Speaker 2 (40:26):
All Inclusive is a production of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Our key mission is the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. You can find All Inclusive on Apple podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. To view the show notes, transcripts, or to learn more, go to Ruderman Foundation.org/AllInclusive. Have an idea for a podcast? Be sure to tweet at Jay Ruderman.