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Matthew Shepard Foundation Newsletter | Fall 2015

Photo courtesy of NGLCC, photographer Steven Shires

On August 13, Judy and Dennis Shepard accepted the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Hero Award at the organization’s annual International Business and Leadership Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.The award was established to recognize outstanding LGBT allies and leaders “for their commitment, courage, brave deeds, and noble qualities.” From left: MSF Board of Directors Assistant Secretary Doug Sanborn, Judy and Dennis Shepard Thank you to our partner MillerCoors, who sponsored the Heroes Reception at the NGLCC Conference.

303.830.7400 | info@matthewshepard.org www.MatthewShepard.org www.MatthewsPlace.com


Matthew Shepard Foundation Newsletter | Fall 2015

It’s Up to Us to Stop This

By Judy and Dennis Shepard

This past August we had the fortunate opportunity to speak with students in Lexington, Kentucky about what they can do to end the horrific cycle of bullying today’s youth endure. Regardless of someone’s sexual orientation, race, religion or otherwise, all our young people deserve the chance to be who they are. We live in a time where many of today’s youth live online, and it’s in this often anonymous, impersonal space of the Internet that kids are facing brutality from bullying that some of us couldn’t fathom. The hate, anger and violence that threatens the safety and security of so many is hastily dished from the comfort of a keyboard. The barriers and social etiquette we’re accustomed to vanish with the anonymity of a username.

We are losing young people because they lose hope to bullying, and it’s up to us, all of us, to stop it. Hate is a learned behavior. We set out to do this work in order to encourage other parents to love and accept their kids for who they are, no matter what. Erasing hate starts in our own homes and communities, creating accepting and loving environments for our families and neighbors. The more we reinforce this idea to our youth, the sooner we’ll live in a world free from hate. Our youth site MatthewsPlace.com, which serves as a safe space and resource for LGBTQ+ youth to seek out shared experiences and voices, has never been more important than it is today. By continuing to grow this resource and provide a place for young people to share their stories we hope to provide a beacon of hope and support in a place where so many are faced with cruelty.

Judy and Dennis Shepard addressed issues of bullying to more than 500 students with Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky on August 27.

Students, administrators and teachers gathering in Lexington, Kentucky to hear a panel discussion about empowering youth to do their part to stop bullying. The morning’s events were broadcast to the entire Fayette County Public School District.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation is excited share our newly redesigned and updated website! Visit MatthewShepard.org to see the breakdown of our outreach work with hate crimes trainings and Laramie Project productions, access educator’s resources, and find out how to get involved in our work to Erase Hate. 303.830.7400 | info@matthewshepard.org www.MatthewShepard.org www.MatthewsPlace.com


Matthew Shepard Foundation Newsletter | Fall 2015

Join us this October 10 The Matthew Shepard Foundation staff is preparing for another exciting night at

New production season brings new opportunities for The Laramie Project This October, a select group of inmates at the Ohio Refor-

our annual Honors Gala at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. On the night of

matory for Women in the town of Marysville will be performing

of you to celebrate new milestones and another year of progress to Erase Hate.

kind for the Matthew Shepard Foundation since launching our

October 10, Judy and Dennis Shepard and the Foundation staff come together with all In June, we witnessed history. The Supreme Court of the United States, in a

landmark ruling, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. It’s truly remarkable to be

alive for such an historic moment, one Judy and Dennis were certain they’d never see in their lifetime, but perhaps something Matthew would have seen in his. For more

reasons than one this moment is bittersweet—we celebrate this progress and equality

while remembering those who were lost before seeing it achieved. This October we’ll come together and let the community gather in a moment of triumph, but as we mark

the end of one achievement, we acknowledge what’s still needed to have full equality.

Our message this year is clear: The Foundation, the LGBTQ+ community, its supporters and allies cannot risk complacency. We cannot lose momentum. From The Equality Act, which would provide federal protections against discrim-

ination based on sexual orientation or gender identity with housing, employment and

healthcare, to anti-bullying legislation and inclusive policies for our youth, our work is cut out.

Our work to expand hate crimes reporting and training efforts, now more than ever,

is crucial to address the senseless violence carried out against those in our community,

specifically trans people and women of color. There will never be true equality as long

as people’s lives are threatened simply for being who they are and expressing who they

love. With more rights and visibility comes more outspoken hate in retaliation, and it is our responsibility, as a community as as human beings, to put a stop to this, to live in a future free from hate.

For our 14th Annual Honors Gala, the Matthew Shepard Foundation is calling upon

our friends, family and supporters to continue in our work to change hearts and minds.

Meet our 2015 Honors Gala Honorees

The Laramie Project. This type of production is the first of its Laramie Project Support program, and our Laramie Project

and Programs Specialist Susan Burk will be working with the production’s director, Susie Gerald, through the process. The Foundation donated the scripts for the production, and Burk

will be assisting in providing more in-depth historical context in order for inmates to better understand the events and themes of the play.

Gerald, who envisioned this effort, had been working with

members of the Tapestry Program, which is a therapeutic community for substance abusers within the prison. After success-

fully mentoring a creative writing program with women in this

program, Gerald decided to engage the group in a play, choosing The Laramie Project due to the play’s ability to speak to women

on different levels; issues surrounding lesbian identities, feelings of being ostracized and how they’ll be treated by society once they leave prison.

“It’s kind of amazing to hear them talk, and how reverent

they are at rehearsal,” Gerald says, adding that undertaking this production has brought out a new sense of empathy for victims

among the women. As they continue to explore each character’s sense of loss and pain, Gerald says it will be a “transformative” experience for the inmates.

And with fall being

a particularly busy time for theater productions, Burk is scheduled to

make several appearances around the country, including Juan Diego

Catholic High School in Draper, Utah, in

September. The Catholic school is inviting Burk to be a part of their

effort to look at discrimination through the lens Nathan Lane “Making A Difference Award”

Jennifer and Jeff Kustok “Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Service”

of their production of Nicole Maines and Family “Spirit of Matthew Award”

The Laramie Project, which will be accompanied by a screening

of the film Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine the day before the show.

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Matthew Shepard Foundation Newsletter | Fall 2015 Matthew Shepard Foundation 1530 Blake Street, Suite 200 Denver, Colorado 80202

For ticketing information, please go to MatthewShepard.org/Honors To learn more about this year’s honorees, visit MatthewShepard.org/Annual-Honors-Gala

Calendar of Events The Shepards attend the Oslo International Film Festival for screening of Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine

Oct 10

Matthew Shepard Foundation Annual Honors Gala

Sept 28

Department of Justice Hate Crimes Training in Clarksburg, West Virginia

Oct 28

Department of Justice Hate Crimes Training in Salem, Oregon

Oct 8

Department of Justice Hate Crimes Training in Miami, Florida

Nov 4

Department of Justice Hate Crimes Training in Kansas City, Missouri

Sept 13-18

303.830.7400 | info@matthewshepard.org www.MatthewShepard.org www.MatthewsPlace.com

MSF Fall Newsletter 2015