MSF Spring Newsletter, 2017

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THE GOOD FIGHT There was a 7% increase of hate crimes against all minorities in the US in 2015. This number has only gone up in 2016. MATTHEWSHEPARD.ORG

A lot has taken place since January 20th. We have seen a surge in hate crimes all over the country. Whether they directly correlate with the rhetoric coming out of the White House or not, we will let you decide. While we were not prepared to be working under an unfriendly administration, we want to reassure you that we will be working tirelessly to ensure that our rights continue to progress. In 2009, when President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, we finally saw the fruits of our labor. We saw that with determination, hard work, and the love and strength of the Foundation’s supporters, we were able to effect real change. Since then, we have continued. And we will not stop. We didn’t think that 19 years later, the Matthew Shepard

Foundation would even still be open. But we now know that our work is more important and more necessary than ever. Over the last quarter, we have seen spikes in hate crimes–not just around the country, but around the world. There is a seismic shift happening. We urge you to continue being engaged, paying attention, and supporting organizations that fight for the rights of all–not just the rights of a few. As Meryl Streep so eloquently put it in her Golden Globes speech: “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their positions to bully, we all lose.” We know better. Let’s keep winning. Thank you, again, for your support.

CHECK OUT OUR NEW ERASE HATE T-SHIRTS! After a run of 8 years, our old t-shirts have made way for our new ones. The new design uses our 21-point sunburst, which represents Matt’s age when he died. The new shirts challenge our supporters to find their inner superhero and serve as an excellent reminder to continue to Erase Hate! Visit our online store and order yours today!

MEET CYNTHIA DEITLE! The Foundation is delighted to announce that retiring FBI agent and civil rights expert Cynthia Deitle will join our team this spring as our new Programs and Operations Director. In addition to her national leadership in enforcing U.S. civil rights criminal law over a nearly 20-year career with the bureau, Cynthia brings a strong community-outreach background and considerable organizational leadership experience to the Foundation’s staff. As a Special Agent and later Civil Rights Unit Chief, Cynthia investigated federal civil rights cases ranging from public corruption and hate crimes to human

trafficking and pre-1970s civil rights cold cases. She also established a training curriculum for law enforcement personnel across the country and partnered with numerous nonprofits including MSF to strengthen communities’ understanding of their rights and protections. She comes to Denver by way of Knoxville, TN with her wife and son. At MSF, Cynthia will lead our rapidly growing hate crime awareness, reporting and prevention programs and help the management team deploy donor dollars and volunteer time in strategically targeted ways. Please join us in welcoming her to the team!

DID YOU KNOW? SPOTLIGHT ON MATTHEW’S PLACE We recently moved over to be hosted on Medium is a popular blog network and lends itself to much more exposure for our writers. Our latest themes, #FinancialFebruary (sponsored by State Farm) and December Health (sponsored by UnitedHealth Group) brought new writers to our arsenal. Head over to the site to check out the latest blogs!


800 18th Street, Suite 101 Denver, CO 80202

SIR ELTON JOHN It was a snowy day in February. Or was it? We can’t remember. But on a day in February, we received a message from Elton John’s tour manager saying he wanted to gift us 100 tickets for his show in Casper, Wyoming. We auctioned them off to help raise over $4,000 for our hate crimes work. We caravanned to Casper and had a wonderful time with new and old friends, alike. It is always a honor to have our work recognized by celebrities. Their support and help has really brought a special light to the foundation.

in October! Save the date: October 14, 2017. This year’s will be better than ever!


Speaking of celebrities... we cannot wait to announce whom we will be honoring at this year’s Bear to Make a Difference gala


WITHDRAWAL OF FEDERAL SAFEGUARDS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE There is no other way to describe what took place in the White House regarding recommendations for transgender students. The President and his cabinet took immediate action in humiliating, disavowing, and quite frankly putting our transgender students in harm’s way. As it stands, the suicide rate for transgender people is already much higher than of cis-gender people. Taking away rights from them is probably not going to make it better. This is why we have to make sure these kids have the resources they need–to feel protected and heard. The statistics aren’t on our side. 82% of transgender kids attempt suicide when they feel rejected by their families. Imagine how they feel now? Rejected by their country. Statistics also say that the

risk of suicide is higher in states without protections. This is what we do know: leaving this kind of law up to the states will do no better now than it did during segregation. This is setting our kids up for failure.

The Matthew Shepard Foundation stands with all transgender students today and every day. CIVIL RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES.

This isn’t an issue about bathrooms. This isn’t an issue about danger. This is a human decency issue and the Matthew Shepard Foundation will continue to stand up for what’s right with our supporters and coalition partners. We will do this in the fashion we have always done it: with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. The hateful rhetoric coming out of Washington must be stopped. We hope that you take the time to explain to your networks and communities why this action is dangerous and in worst-case scenarios: deadly. As more information unfolds, we will be sure to keep you updated. If you aren’t following us on Facebook or Twitter, please do so. Staying informed is our best tool right now.

800 18th Street, Suite 101 Denver, Colorado 80202

S AV E T H E D AT E S ! March 29 Jason speaks at Lynbrook High School, Lynbrook, NY

April 6 Judy speaks at Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, VA

April 10 MSF’s Online Pre-Pride Auction

May 4 Hate Crime Awareness Event in Dallas, TX

June 16-17 Denver Pride

October 14 Bear to Make a Difference Gala in Denver, CO

We know that the more people we have on our side, the better. That was the thought behind the process of creating a coalition with other Mountain State organizations. Mountain States Against Hate (MSAH) is a coalition of people from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Anti-Defamation League, ACLU, NAACP, One Colorado, The GLBT Center, and several other groups.

We have been meeting monthly to discuss the status of hate crimes in our communities and seeing how we can all assist each other through these tumultuous times. Do you represent a group or know of one that should be a part of MSAH? Email Sara Grossman at and let her know!

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