One of the great things about living in Iowa, especially for LGBT young people, is the Matthew Shepard Scholarship program, established during 2007 by Des Moines-based entrepreneur Rich Eychaner.
The Eychaner Foundation awards nearly $200,000 in Matthew Shepard Scholarships annually to Iowa LGBT high school seniors. The program honors the memory of Matthew Shepard, gay University of Wyoming student beaten to death near Laramie during October of 1998.
Scholarships this year will go to the 11 seniors pictured above --- although I can't match faces to names yet; that detailed information will be posted closer to or after the June 7 awards ceremony in Des Moines.
Gold Scholarships pay up to $40,000 over a four-year period; Silver Scholarships, up to $9,000. Scholarship awards are based on academic aptitude, academic achievement, community service and financial need. Preference is given to "students who are out and proud and who have worked to improve circumstances for the LGBTQ Community."
This year's recipients will be Allison Kayser, Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School; Christopher Reising, Le Mars High School; Gabriella Daft (gold scholar), Newton Senior High School; Maggi Brown, Osage High School; Samuel Pitt, Williamsburg High School; Tyler Nyhus, Ballard High School; Christopher Krebill (gold scholar), Central Lee High School; Daniel Kauble (gold scholar), Iowa City West High School; Jade Riley, Sioux City East High School; Nadia Loeppke, Dubuque Senior High School; and Shelby Woolison, Davenport Central High School.
Matthew Shepard's parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, will be keynote speakers during the year's awards program, scheduled for June 7 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines. Ticket information is available at the foundation Web site.
The scholarship recipients were annonced during April, so I'm a little slow on the uptake here, but another piece of more recent news is worth noting, too.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week in the case of Gartner v. Newton that the Iowa Department of Public Health must issue accurate birth certificates to children born to married lesbian parents. The Department had refused to issue such a certificate to Heather Martin Gartner and Melissa Gartner when their daughter, MacKenzie, was born. Under Iowa law, a child born to married parents is assumed to be the "legitimate" child of both; and, of course, same-sex marriage is legally recognized in Iowa.
It would be interesting to know how much this sheer cussedness on the part of the Department cost Iowa taxpayers, since a district court had ruled earlier in the Gartners' favor and the state chose to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court. Lawsuits don't come cheap.
Finally, I'm updating the list of LGBT resources found midway down the sidebar here --- under the rainbow flag. It's been inadequate and raggedy heretofore and I'll continue to update it. It always surprises me a little when others find this list useful, but some do and I'm gratified by that.