Recently, TWO asked our readers to sign a petition because we were steaming mad at a Catholic School in Iowa that was bullying a gay student:
Truth Wins Out condemned Prince of Peace Catholic school for refusing to allow outstanding high school senior, Keaton Fuller, to receive Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship at his school’s awards ceremony on May 20. It appears that the institution may have buckled under pressure from the hierarchy, because Prince of Peace had confirmed two months ago that a Scholarship Committee Member could present the award.
The school ought to change its name to Prince of Prejudice unless it acts responsibly and reverses course. The two lessons that this school is imparting to students are that one does not have to stand by their word and that intolerance is a positive virtue. It is heartbreaking that they are humiliating a student that they ought to instead be celebrating in honor of his achievements.
Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship is a program of the Eychaner Foundation in Des Moines. The program invests in distinguished Iowa high school students who are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The $40,000 scholarship to the University of Iowa was awarded to Keaton for his scholastic achievement and work reducing homophobia in his school and community as an openly gay student.
Well, there is good news and a positive resolution to this drama. According to the Eychaner Foundation:
The Diocese of Davenport and The Eychaner Foundation announce that an agreement has been reached regarding the presentation of the Matthew Shepard Scholarship to Keaton Fuller at Prince of Peace College Preparatory School in Clinton, Iowa.
Under the agreement, Dr. Lee Morrison, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools will read a script prepared by the Eychaner Foundation, which was reviewed and approved by the Most Rev. Martin J. Amos, Bishop of Davenport. Mike Simonson, a prominent architect and member of the scholarship committee, will present an eagle statue to Fuller.
The Eychaner Foundation, which sponsors Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship program, thanked Bishop Amos for graciously working to find a mutually acceptable way to resolve the dispute regarding the presentation of the scholarship.
“From the beginning, Keaton Fuller and his family were committed to a respectful action to insure that all students were treated fairly, without disrupting the graduation ceremony,” Rich Eychaner said. “By keeping the protest gracious and being respectful of the prerogatives of the Diocese, we were able to find common ground in a procedure all parties could support. We appreciate Bishop Amos’ willingness to find a mutually agreeable resolution.”
Bishop Amos congratulated Keaton on his graduation and success in receiving a prestigious scholarship, and the Eychaner Foundation for respecting Catholic teaching regarding speakers in Catholic churches. Regardless of the different views held by Mr. Eychaner and the Diocese on same sex marriage, the work of the Foundation for tolerance and respect for all people is commendable, especially regarding the anti-bullying programs they advocate. The Diocese also supports anti-bullying and anti-discrimination as outlined in its 2007 “Anti-Bullying/ Harassment Policy.”
“Principles of mutual respect and careful listening exhibited by all parties allowed a solution to emerge,” Bishop Amos explained. “We have many things we agree upon, and have also agreed to accept the fact that we also have some things we disagree about. But that shouldn’t prevent all of us from celebrating Keaton Fuller’s success over 13 years in Catholic schools and our mutual hope for his success in college and beyond.”
Keaton Fuller said he was pleased a solution was found, and indicated he was glad the matter was resolved. “My biggest fear was that this matter would overwhelm my classmate’s significant accomplishments and the joy we all feel in graduating,” he said. “My family is focusing now on graduation and celebrating the end of the school year.”
Read Keaton’s letter at our website.
Show your support at Iowa’s 2012 Matthew Shepard Scholarship Awards Dinner. Tickets are on sale now at http://mssdinner.eychanerfoundation.org!
Support Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship Program! Our mission of tolerance and non-discrimination is not over and we need your help. Invest now at http://contribute.eychanerfoundation.org.
Tell Most Rev. Martin Amos Thank You. We are grateful for his Bishop Amos’ willingness to consider all factors involved and allow Keaton to receive this recognition. Letters of gratitude may be mailed to:
Most Rev. Martin Amos
Bishop of Davenport
780 West Central Park Avenue
Davenport, Iowa 52804-1901
All is well that ends well. Thanks to the Eychaner Foundation for offering this scholarship and congratulations to Keaton Fuller for an award that is well deserved.