Tyler Clementi poses at a family function in this undated...

Tyler Clementi poses at a family function in this undated file photograph provided by Joseph and Jane Clementi. Credit: AP

Calling the Rutgers University webcam suicide verdict "historic," Long Island gay and lesbian leaders Friday hoped the case raises awareness of hate crimes and cyberbullying.

"It's historic because we're bringing in the issues of privacy and bias in the same sentence," said David Kilmnick, founder of Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth.

As the news spread, about a hundred people and just as many calls came into Kilmnick's safe-haven centers in Bay Shore and Garden City. There was some satisfaction but little joy, he said.

Kerrie O'Neill, programming director for Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders-Long Island, said the verdict filled her with "a sense of thankfulness that hate crimes and acts of bullying and hate against GLBT individuals are being taken seriously."

James Fallarino, spokesman for Equality Long Island, said cyberbullying has been tough to prosecute because it's relatively new.

"Cases like this are just one part of the process to make the world safer for GLBT young people," said Fallarino, whose group is the political advocacy arm of the Long Island GLBT Services Network.

"There's going to be a lot more people talking about the implications of cyberbullying and its effects on those being targeted -- and the responsibility that needs to be taken by the bullies themselves," he said.

Latest videos