Gay Student Banned from Publicly Receiving Scholarship


May 5, 2016
by 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.

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Tyler McCubbin, a respectable substitute teacher and volunteer track coach had his full time teaching position offer rescinded after a background check revealed he was openly gay.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 Change.org 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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Discuss

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Eric. M  on  7/1/2016 3:23:39 PM commented:

I feel like there are more reasons why he was denied for scholarship/grants. Not for being gay but probably just not qualified for it. I don't know I wasn't there but that's what it feels like to me.

William H.  on  5/22/2016 8:56:53 AM commented:

It's incredibly sad that we as a society would have to address differences. I live in Georgia, openly gay, and African American. I am a middle aged adult and have had issues like this all my life. Most people can't tell I'm gay till I tell them, which allows me to hide in plain sight. I wish it didn't matter, but it does to people who aren't open to the live and let live concept. I don't know what it will take to get people to open up a little bit.

Sophia D  on  5/17/2016 7:14:01 PM commented:

Ditto to Ben n, CCharl, and Anna L. The Catholic school has a right to uphold their beliefs. It's not exactly like he was robbed and mugged and the school was okay with that. In addition, maybe a Catholic school is not the right place for the substitute teacher if he disagrees with their ideas.

Shonda  on  5/13/2016 12:51:50 PM commented:

Catholic Schools don't like gay students but they love their gay money. On this same graduation, other scholarship awards will be given to the recipients. Why not his award? Is this not a "christian" kind of discrimination?

Anna L  on  5/13/2016 5:57:38 AM commented:

Since the young man attended a Catholic school I am in agreement with their position. This student would be better served at a public institution. He has the right to be honored for his accomplishment however a catholic school has their right to uphold catholic teaching and serve those whose beliefs are in line with their doctrines. Tolerance has to be on both sides.

CCharl  on  5/10/2016 10:45:53 PM commented:

I do not think a scholarship website should be spreading liberal propoganda biased against catholics. I mean, we are not in a communist academy in Russia.

Ben n  on  5/10/2016 8:19:59 PM commented:

The Catholic Church teaches intimate love between opposite genders. If they do not get this teaching across, it is their fault. A Catholic school is not the place for him.

Tim P.  on  5/10/2016 7:32:55 PM commented:

While I am not familiar with this situation specifically, I do want to mention that the Bible does not support a homosexual lifestyle, similar to how it does not support sex outside of marriage. The Bible DOES NOT advocate hating LGBTQ's. It DOES say God hates it when people use sex in a way that isn't healthy for them. Many Christians would be very disappointed that the school they trusted would directly or indirectly encourage unbiblical behavior. Anti-bullying is good, but encouraging the lifestyle itself is not something many Christian parents would conscientiously approve of. I believe that this could be the perspective many people at the school are coming from. The school doesn't want to offend anybody from either side, so they are trying to skirt around the issue. That may not be a healthy course of action, but it is understandable. Lastly, as others mentioned, this is a private school, so this decision should be the call of the school and those who attend, not us.

Laurie B  on  5/10/2016 6:56:09 PM commented:

He should be able to receive the scholarship at the awards ceremony like everyone else. He deserves the recognition.

Kenecia R.  on  5/10/2016 6:51:27 PM commented:

When I received my scholarship the organization had their own breakfast where they presented the winners their certificates. I don't care if the entire school knows what awards I've gotten or not as long as my funds are there as promised. My point? This whole thing just seems kind of narcissistic to me. What difference does it make whether they chose to publicly present the scholarship or not as long as he receives his award as promised? People just like to bring a whole bunch of attention to themselves these days. That's not to say that what he accomplished wasn't great, but if the rules don't allow for organizations to personally award students. Why does he feel that he should be the exception to this rule? The rule makes sense to me. What about the other seniors who have also received awards? If everybody got personally presented with each and every scholarship, that could potentially be a long drawn-out mess. Your greatness will follow you no matter what. Let it go! Just my opinion

Zcasavant  on  5/10/2016 2:08:22 AM commented:

Very good on this student for his work and dedication. He deserves this scholarship. And if the school really did change their policy to target LGBT scholarships, that's a little messed up. But in any case, a private school can do whatever it wants. It can give money to only women, or only blacks, or only straight or gay people if it wishes to, and it can reward them in any way it chooses - publicly or otherwise. For example, ERAU gives $10,000 scholarships to women only. I would bet that if a male won a Women in Aviation scholarship at ERAU (which is possible), the school would not wish to publicly award the student in front of everyone. It's their choice, they're a private school. And THIS is a private Christian school; even more stubborn and with a very specific population :/

Alex S  on  5/6/2016 5:27:25 PM commented:

Of a Christian school is not going to treat people the same then it should not be a Christian School.

.....  on  5/6/2016 5:26:14 PM commented:

Does the Catholic Religiom not follow the teachings of God and the Bible? You are to accept others even if you disagree with their life choices. Even if the student is gay it's discrimination to treat him any differently than his straight peers; he should be awarded the scholarship just as any other of his peers would. Awarding the scholarship in public does not mean they support being of the LGBTQ commu ity, rather it shows they support their student(s) and any other human beings as God's creation.

Tiana G.  on  5/6/2016 5:10:11 PM commented:

I believe it was very brave of Jameson to create a LGBT group that others who need support can participate in. Not many people have that kind of courage to stand up to others that may frown upon his movement. Therefore I think Jameson should be presented this award at the Annual Senior Award Ceremony.

Leah W.  on  5/6/2016 11:06:12 AM commented:

It's a private Catholic high school they can do whatever they want

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