Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bulled because they were gay or because people thought they were gay. Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice. We have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred.
I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future. First of all, hang in there and ask for help. Your life is so important to your family, your friends, and to your country. There is so much waiting for you both personally and professionally. There are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions. These opportunities will increase because the story of America is the story of people coming together to tear down barriers, stand up for rights, and insist on equality not only for themselves but for all people. In the process, they create a community of support and solidarity that endures. Just think the progress made by women just during my lifetime or ethnic, racial, and religious minorities over the course of our history and by gays and lesbian, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly.
Here at the State Department, I am grateful every day for the work of our LGBT employees who are serving the United States as Foreign Service officers and civil servants here and around the world. It wasn’t long ago that these men and women would not have been able to serve openly, but today they can because it has gotten better, and it will get better for you. Take heart and have hope, and please remember that your life is valuable and that you are not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending you their thoughts, their prayers, and their strength. Count me among them. Take care of yourself.