Ellen DeGeneres ‘devastated’ by death of Rutgers student
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Ellen DeGeneres spoke out against teen bullying Thursday in the wake of the Sept. 22 death of a Rutgers student.
‘I am devastated by the death of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi,’ she wrote on her show’s website. ‘If you don’t know, Tyler was a bright student at Rutgers University whose life was senselessly cut short. He was outed as being gay on the internet and he killed himself.’
DeGeneres noted that it was September’s fourth story about suicide by teens ‘who have been teased and bullied.’
The freshman’s death -- his last Facebook post read ‘jumping off the gw bridge sorry,’ and the family’s attorney confirmed it was a suicide -- came after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, with Ravi’s friend, Molly Wei, allegedly used a webcam in their dorm room to record a Sept. 19 sexual encounter between Clementi and another guy, then broadcast it online. Another webcam attempt is alleged to have happened Sept. 21, and Ravi posted on Twitter in August that he’d learned his roommate was gay.
Ravi and Wei, both 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy, and according to ABC News prosecutors are considering filing bias-crime charges as well, if Clementi’s sexual orientation emerges as a motive. DeGeneres linked to a number of support organizations, among them thetrevorproject.org and matthewsplace.com, which support gay and questioning teens; and anti-bullying groups AngelsandDoves.com, Pacer.org/bullying, glsen.org and stompoutbullying.com.
‘We have an obligation to change this,’ DeGeneres said. ‘There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop. We can’t let intolerance and ignorance take another kid’s life.’
Demi Lovato is another celeb who is working against teen bullying. Blogger Perez Hilton has rallied the likes of Ciara, Lala Vazquez and Jay Manuel of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ to make videos to support kids who might be getting bullied over their sexuality, CNN reports. Hilton said the cast of ‘Glee’ will do a video as well.
-- Christie D’Zurilla