The marching band, the tailgate parties, the chill in the air and even fireworks when the home team scored a touchdown — all the trappings of a perfect college football game created a magical parent’s weekend on our daughter’s university campus.
But while we mingled casually with her friends and their families, the students at Rutgers University were forced to entertain an unwelcome visitor to their campus: Grief.
Last week, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi learned he was unknowingly videoed while in the privacy of his dorm room engaged in a gay sexual encounter by two fellow students whom authorities say were his roommate, Dharun Ravi, and another student, Molly Wei. Mr. Ravi set up a camera in the room so that he and Miss Wei could stream the video live online, police said.
Upon learning of his exploitation, Clementi sought redress through university housing authorities, but apparently was emotionally unable to accept the public humiliation to which he had been subject. His Facebook status, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry,” conveys in its brevity his helpless desperation.
Clementi’s tragic suicide left a heartbroken family and a bewildered community that struggles to understand why a shy, unassuming, accomplished, person was the target of such a despicable invasion of privacy.
The quick and politically expedient answer is that he was gay. Public outcry from every corner —including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and entertainer Ellen Degeneres — has focused on the fact of his nonconforming sexuality as the reason why Clementi was targeted.
In fact, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocates, employing the radical left’s go-to strategy, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” point to Clementi’s death and several other recent gay-teen suicides as proof that we must institutionalize LGBT awareness and acceptance training at every stage of a child’s education in order to prevent bullying of gay students.
But the theory — that kids will cease to belittle student of non-conforming sexuality through early sensitivity training — will only put more teens and young adults at risk of bullying, depression and suicide. Kids don’t need to be taught about sexual preference. They need to be taught right from wrong.
I don’t believe Clementi’s roommate and another friend invaded his privacy to stream his sexual encounter online because he was gay. Early evidence suggests both students have a history of accepting gay friends and were essentially amused by Clementi’s sexuality.
They did it because they have no conscience.
The question we should be asking in the aftermath of this tragedy isn’t, “How can we protect gay students?” It’s, “What kind of person would do such a thing to another human being?”
Our hypersexual culture promotes sexual awareness and activity — for both gay and straight adolescents — far too soon. The far Left’s insistence on comprehensive sexual education isn’t protecting children and teens, but rather is promoting the emotionally powerful experience of sex to an immature and morally inept generation. Even in some elementary schools across the nation, the Left seeks to establish programs that encourage students to acknowledge homosexuality in themselves or others long before children have the maturity to do so.
Meanwhile, as revealed every two years in the Josephson Institute’s longitudinal survey of American teenagers, our nation’s youth lack the moral compass and ethical maturity to know that some behaviors are always wrong, no matter whom you target.
This tragic story is not about a gay kid being bullied. It’s about all kids learning and conforming to a societal standard of morality, decency and civility that would result in genuine respect for others. And it’s about learning a behavior code in which the bullying of another person by invading his privacy would be unthinkable.
If we buy into the knee-jerk reaction that what’s needed is more sexual education and greater advocacy of the gay agenda, we’re selling short all kids — gay and straight. What they need instead is character education.
The right response to this appalling episode is to halt sexuality education in favor of developing in our young people the one thing that would protect every child from heartless bullying: A conscience.