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My 2014 Bullying Awareness Month Blog – Introducing a Dynamic New Organization

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named


At the end of the summer this year, a good and very respected friend, Sean Kosofsky, moved from Raleigh, NC to New York City to become the Executive Director of a new nonprofit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation. I just knew this would be a great organization to highlight for this year’s Bullying Awareness Month blog.

For those not familiar, here is a link to Tyler Clementi’s story.


STAN: “Sean, first can you tell me a little about the Tyler Clementi Foundation, like its mission and vision?”
SEAN: “The Tyler Clementi Foundation is a national organization committed to ending bullying, harassment and humiliation, online and offline, especially for marginalized youth. Our mission is to promote safe, inclusive and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for vulnerable youth, LGBT youth and their allies. We have only been around for a few years but the Clementi family has spoken to well over 10,000 folks around the country and continue to build a strong organization and board through their committed time and energy. In the coming months we hope to expand our programs, increase our visibility and build lasting partnerships that will help us reduce bullying.”


Seans nametag
STAN: “This foundation is quite new. Who started it and why?”
SEAN: “We were incorporated in 2010 but really started to grow in the past year. The Tyler Clementi Foundation was started by the family to provide a vehicle to help stop the suffering of other youth. The Clementi family story is powerful and it captured the attention of people all over the world. Instead of just mourning the loss of their son and then retreating, they decided that something had to be done and if they could build on the public outpouring of support, they should.”


Tyler was a gifted violinist and earned in seat in Rutgers University's esteemed orchestra as a freshman.

Tyler was a gifted violinist and earned in seat in Rutgers University’s esteemed orchestra as a freshman.


STAN: “What is particularly unique about the Tyler Clementi Foundation? What work are you doing that no one really is?”
SEAN: “We want to differentiate ourselves in this sector by developing high quality programs, rooted in research that can measurably improve the lives of young people. We don’t want to create any unnecessary duplication of services. We want to fill gaps in the sector, especially on college campuses and online. We need more research on effective messaging and more tools to get into the hands of parents and people of faith on how to address bullying…even if their child is bullying.”


STAN: “What spoke to you and personally drew you to move now from North Carolina to New York to lead this work?”
SEAN: “Though it finally passed after I moved to NC, I helped author and create the foundation for the anti-bullying law in Michigan. I have been in the struggle for LGBT equality for over 20 years. The issue that drives most of my activism is my undying passion to stop people’s suffering in silence. The isolation and fear of the closet damaged me as a young person and I don’t want it to damage others. When I was given the opportunity to partner with the Clementi family to hopefully save lives and improve our national discourse…I jumped at the chance.”


Current very exciting campaign / auction with the chance to meet superstar Demi Lovato

Current very exciting campaign / auction with the chance to meet superstar Demi Lovato


STAN: “Is there anything else you want to tell the readers of this blog at this time?
SEAN: “Yes! We have a very exciting campaign / auction (link) right now to meet superstar Demi Lovato. Even a small donation helps and enters you in a chance to meet her. Also we have our Upstander Legacy Celebration (link) Nov 17 in NYC honoring Stephen Schwartz (Wicked / Pippin / Godspell) and Gautam Raghavan, formerly of the White House, for their contributions to the movement for LGBT equality and anti-bullying. “
STAN: “Thanks so much, Sean, and I am so pleased you found this position which matches both your expertise in non-profit leadership and your passion for impactful activism. I wish you and the Tyler Clementi Foundation the very best of success.”


Link to my 2013 Bullying Awareness Month Blog about the connection between “playground” and “workplace” harassment and bullying.

Link to my 2012 Bullying Awareness Month Blog which includes links to additional resources and blogs.

Football, Bullying and LGBT Diversity – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The blog is loaded with links! Do explore them!

As a career and diversity consultant, a gay man, and a sports lover, I can’t avoid blogging about all the recent bullying and gay oriented news that has emerged in football (that’s US Football for you global readers) news over the past few days.

THE GOOD: University of Missouri All-American defensive end and proud gay man Michael Sam in the Reeses Senior Bowl (photo - CNN)

THE GOOD: University of Missouri All-American defensive end and proud gay man Michael Sam in the Reeses Senior Bowl (photo – CNN)


I have an eclectic collection of favorite sports – I enjoy watching men’s college football, women’s college basketball, figure skating (haven’t the Olympics skaters been fantastic?), and now golf since my youngest niece is about to start college on a women’s golf scholarship.

Before jumping into the recent football discussions, here are two past blogs I have written covering sports and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) diversity.
• Last month, I published “A Rant -The 2014 Olympics, Stereotyping and Prejudice,” since there are so many misconceptions about the extremely demanding and athletic sport of figure skating. And combine that with all the brouhaha around LGBT acceptance and Russia’s new draconian laws.
• And last May, I wrote about “Five Important Ramifications of NBA Pro Basketball Player Jason Collin’s Coming Out.”

AND NOW THE GOOD: Earlier that week, University of Missouri All-American defensive end Michael Sam publically said he was an “openly, proud gay man.” What is groundbreaking with this pronouncement is that Michael Sam is about to start his pro-football career and took the risk of making this announcement before the football draft, when teams select their new players from the top graduating college standouts. This demonstrates the deep integrity of Michael Sam in being authentic about who he is and valuing his own self worth and identity above the financial ramifications of the draft. (link to longer ESPN story.)

A majority of the response has been positive with many pro teams and college football coaches confirming that nurturing diversity and fostering respect for every individual is a great goal and will build a stronger team. Check out this poignant and brilliant two minute response from an older straight white Texan sportscaster (link) who reminds us that not so many years ago, people spoke about not being comfortable with black players in the football locker rooms. And Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman says “he is not concerned about the extra attention that would come from drafting Sam.” (link to Star Tribune article.) Obviously, Spielman is more concerned about collecting the best players and building the strongest team.

THE BAD: Stanford University Graduate and Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin was the recipient of malicious, harmful bullying.  (Photo: browardpalmbeach.com)

THE BAD: Stanford University Graduate and Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin was the recipient of malicious, harmful bullying. (Photo: browardpalmbeach.com)


AND THE BAD AND UGLY: And meanwhile the shocking additional revelations about the bullying episode on the Miami Dolphins team between guard Richie Incognito and tackle Jonathan Martin. This extreme inhuman bullying which included players threatening to rape Jonathan’s sister, now extends to additional perpetrators and victims, with racial slurs along with the homophobic bullying. (Link to detailed AP story.) See also my blog about the psychology of bullying where I discuss the harmful ramifications of this scourge.

OK – enough on this. Time to get busy preparing and sending a diversity and sensitivity training proposal to the Miami Dolphins. (See my blog about training security guards after an unfortunate incident.) They sure need to learn the lesson that most American businesses have learned long ago – that building a diverse team that fosters mutual acceptance and appreciates each party’s unique talents and attributes wins in the long run.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Link to Blog: Five Common Misconceptions about Gay People

Link to Blog: Five Things Never to Say to a Gay Person

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