msnbc | October 09, 2012
>>> national antibullying month, and sadly, that month-long awareness is the result of so many tragic stories we've covered on this program. one of the first to elevate the national conversation is that of tyler clementi and his loss. he was a college teen studying at rutgers university , and tyler killed himself on september 22nd , 2010 , three days after his roommate secretly videotaped him kissing another man. now, that incident sparked a criminal trial as well as a guilty verdict for his roommate. it also inspired tyler 's family to take action on their own. joining me in studio now are tyler 's mom and dad , jane and joe clementi . it's great to have you both here to talk about what you are doing now as a family. jane , i want to start with you. did you think at this point -- and it's hard to believe that two years has already gone by -- but that you would be here at this point with a new mission to keep tyler 's memory and legacy alive in a positive direction?
>> hi. thank you, thomas. no, i did not ever think that this would be where my life would have taken me, but we do need to keep -- i do see that there's a conversation that has been started. and as i'm waking up from my grief and all my sadness, i feel that it's imperative to keep that conversation going and to make it a safe place for our youth, all youth, but especially the lgbt community .
>> joe , certainly your family is inspirational, one that has been empowered by what so many families would beheartbreaking and trangic loss that many might not recover from. i know that the foundation has become certainly a personal and passionate mission for all of your family members, and today we all wear the foundation bracelets, if you can see them right here.
>> thank you.
>> explain how well it's going for you, because this is a big undertaking for your family.
>> it's a big undertaking. we started the foundation so that young adults and parents wouldn't have to experience the same kind of tragedy that happened to our family. we work on turning bystanders into upstanders. as a matter of fact, on national coming out day on thursday, people can visit our website and take the pledge. and i'd invite you, thomas, to take the pledge to turn bystanders into upstanders.
>> i will be there to sign it. and one thing i wanted to point out on that website, the roman handshake. that was something you were very involved in, that visual image of showing tolerance of mankind and that simple gesture to one another.
>> the handshake in general has been that way i think throughout history with the roman handshake in particular, to be a little bit different, and it also is, if you look at it, it's the way that you would help somebody up when you grab them. so, it's that mutual trust that we'd have for one another and express it that way.
>> jane , for this undertaking, as joe just said, this is a major undertaking, the family has to be very committed to doing this, moving forward. and i know right now that with rutgers university , there's still some unfinished business there, but the foundation itself, what is your main goal? what is your hope, say five, ten years down the line?
>> well, our goal is to create safe spaces, and we hope to get the message out that our youth are not broken, people are not broken based on their sexual orientation and that we need to be accepting and embracing our children, you know? i want to get the message out to other parents to be embracing, not just accepting, but embracing.
>> one thing, and i know that this was a struggle for you, was church teachings. how have your philosophies as a family and your thoughts about church teachings changed after what you've gone through?
>> that's a great question. and certainly, our church family has been very supportive of us and loving of us and has seen us through our darkest moments of grief and sadness. but unfortunately, with much time and consideration and prayer, i found that i was being a bystander by staying at the church home that i was at, and i needed to be an upstander and i needed to make it known that church teachings are not acceptable. we need to move forward. people are not broken because of their sexual orientation . they come and they need to be not only welcomed but also accepted and allowed to bring their gifts within the church family.
>> well, your family is certainly an inspiration to so many across this country and around the globe, and we wish you the very best with the work that you're doing for the tyler clementi foundation. and i know we have the website up on the screen so you can check it out for yourselves. people can go on thursday to take the pledge, correct, joe ?
>> please, do.
>> in the right-hand corner there.
>> jane and hi to your other sons for us. we're going to be right back