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Advocacy group banned from presenting scholarship to gay teen at awards ceremony

Tuesday, May 8, 2012
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CLINTON, Iowa — A Catholic school in Iowa has refused to allow a gay rights advocacy group to present a $40,000 scholarship to an openly gay senior during his upcoming graduation ceremony.

The Prince of Peace Catholic School said it would not allow Keaton Fuller to receive the Des Moines-based Eychaner Foundation’s “Matthew Shepard Scholarship” at his school awards ceremony May 20, even though the school confirmed the award could be presented by a scholarship committee member two months ago.

Keaton Fuller

The Matthew Shepard Scholarship grants $40,000 to an openly LGBT high school student who will be attending the University of Iowa. According to Eychaner Foundation Executive Director Michael Bowser, Fuller won the scholarship based on his academic work, as well as his efforts to reduce homophobia at school and in his community.

Bishop Martin Amos in Davenport, Iowa, overruled school officials, and said he would not allow the Foundation to present its scholarship to Fuller because the group’s support of gay rights conflicts with church doctrine. Instead, a school staff member will present the scholarship at the assembly.

Filler, 18, said he was stunned by the decision.

“Everybody at the school has always been very accepting and extremely encouraging toward me,” Fuller told MSNBC. “That’s why the latest turn of events has been such a surprise — I feel invalidated and unaccepted.”

Fuller and his parents Randy and Patricia Fuller, said Keaton was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by the Catholic school, and that Prince of Peace issued a signed statement that a Committee Member would be allowed to present the award to Fuller at the ceremony if he was selected for the scholarship.

“We had faith that their written agreement would mean something.” said Bowser.

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