Gay student banned from receiving award by Catholic high school
Liam Jameson won the award for his work preventing LGBT suicides.
School student Liam Jameson was overjoyed when he was told he had won a scholarship for his tireless work advocating LGBT rights at Dowling Catholic High School.
He was awarded the scholarship from the Eychaner Foundation in Iowa, which recognises LGBT young people who have “demonstrated a willingness and ability to lead in their communities”.
Jameson has not only supported other LGBT students at his school, he also started a gay-straight alliance there.
After discovering he had been selected for the Foundation’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship – a four-year $40,000 prize – Jameson says he couldn’t wait to be presented with the honour at a special assembly thrown by his school.
However, on Thursday (May 5) when his peers at the school will be presented with their scholarships, Jameson will not.
The Eychaner Foundation has been told it cannot present the prize publicly – despite having done so in previous years.
Despite the setback, Jameson has written to his school in an attempt to convey how much the award really means to him and other LGBT students.
“I’ve worked hard to prevent suicides, and having this scholarship presented allows other students to learn that LGBTQ students are valued in society, not shunned,” he wrote.
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“That’s why the Committee presents the scholarships at Senior Awards Programs, to try and help save other young lives who feel isolated and worthless, like I once did.”
The foundation and Jameson have launched a Change.org petition – hoping to pressure the school into altering its approach and allowing him to participate.
“After struggling with his self worth, and several suicide attempts, Liam has accepted the responsibility to help prevent other young students from attempting suicide,” it reads.
A spokesperson for Dowling has since denied any wrongdoing, saying it is simply following school policy.
However, the denial was dismissed by the Eychaner Foundation, which claims the school has altered its policy in order to specifically discriminate against LGBT students.