Gay Student Banned from Publicly Receiving Scholarship

Gay Student Banned from Publicly Receiving Scholarship
Susan Dutca-Lovell

An openly gay student at Dowling Catholic High School decided to transform stigma into success by serving as a leader and advocate for LGBT rights at his school. Even after creating a gay-straight alliance and being awarded the Gold Matthew Shepard Scholarship, he was told that he could not receive the scholarship at the annual senior awards ceremony.

Last April, Tyler McCubbin, a respectable substitute teacher and volunteer track coach had his full time teaching position offer rescinded after a background check revealed he was openly gay. Dowling High school student Liam Jameson was one of the hundreds of students who protested the perceived injustice through a walkout. In an open letter, Jameson detailed his numerous attempted suicides because he felt alone, afraid, and "dreaded having to go to school the next day." He took the decision to help struggling peers and created a "safe environment for LGBT students where they don't feel the need to self-harm or commit suicide." His petition to create a LGBT club/safe space earned 2,000 signatures and is now known as One Dowling Family.

Through his efforts, Jameson earned the Gold Matthew Shepard Scholarship sponsored by the Eychaner Foundation in Des Moines. However, Dowling administration refuses to present the scholarship at the annual senior awards dinner on May 5th. Jameson claims that they manipulated the rules multiple times and took to a petition, requesting that the school presents him the award this week. Even McCubbin took to social media and urged people to sign his petition.

The school sent a message to its faculty and media stating that they are "proud of all [our] senior students how have received awards and scholarships to further their education," and that they "do not allow organizations who are awarding the scholarship to attend and individually present the scholarship to the student." Furthermore, they are "pleased one of [our] students received the Matthew Shepard Award and he will be honored in the same manner as his classmates." The Eychaner Foundation claims that Dowling changed its policy in recent months to specifically "target" LGBT-associated scholarships.

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