DES MOINES, Iowa — An agreement has been reached between the Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and The Eychaner Foundation, a gay rights advocacy group, to allow an openly gay student to be presented with his scholarship award during the upcoming graduation ceremony.
Keaton Fuller, 18, a senior at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, Iowa., won the foundation’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship, a $40,000 grant to attend the the University of Iowa.
But last week it was learned that 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.
Under the agreement reached this week, Dr. Lee Morrison, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools will present the award and read a script prepared by the Eychaner Foundation, which was reviewed and approved by Amos.
Mike Simonson, a prominent architect and member of the scholarship committee, will present an eagle statue to Fuller during the award ceremony on May 20.
Fuller won the award based on his academic work, as well as his efforts to reduce homophobia at school and in his community.
The Eychaner Foundation, which sponsors Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarship program, thanked 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.”
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,” Fuller said.
Fuller won the scholarship based on his academic work, as well as his efforts to reduce homophobia at school and in his community.