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Missouri

University of Missouri-Kansas City offers Pride Scholarships to gay students

Sunday, April 14, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some gay students who face financial trouble, often because of rejection from their families, are getting help from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The university offers Pride Scholarships to gay students who are struggling to pay their bills, as well as straight students who lose money because of their support for their gay counterparts.

One of this year’s three recipients, Caleb-Michael Files, 21, said he probably wouldn’t have returned to school this year if he hadn’t been awarded $2,000 for each semester, The Kansas City Star reported. The amount of the scholarships varies depending on the student’s circumstances.

University officials have awarded eight scholarships since creating the program four years ago, when they noticed gay students often struggled with acceptance.

“This year was the greatest need we’ve seen,” says Kristi Ryujin, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for diversity, access and equity. “We have a long way to go still.”

Files, a political science and communication studies major, said he became a ward of the court when he and his twin sister turned 2 and then lived with cousins for several years. He attended 21 schools before entering seventh grade, finally graduating from high school in Knob Noster.

“Gay students, especially, have issues with coming out and support,” Files said. “My parents aren’t in the picture. My guardians aren’t in the picture.”

He was managing to support himself until late 2011, when he lost his job as a resident adviser for LGBT and women’s issues in the university residence halls. He also had no place to live and said he “barely” hung on through the rest of the school year.

He supplements the scholarship money with a job as a graphic designer in a campus office, and until recently he was an editor at the student newspaper.

“I would not be doing as well academically as I am this semester” without the scholarship, said Files, who estimated he would be working 60 to 80 hours a week to pay his bills.

Files said the two other recipients this year were both cut off by their families. One of them was living in a “camp space,” Ryujin said.

Ryujin’s office also keeps tabs on the students and connects them with other campus resources, such as the university’s counseling center. Missouri-Kansas City also has a Pride Alliance student group and a related resources center.

“It’s really a scooping up and holding of the students, making sure they have the financial and personal support mechanisms they need to be successful,” she said.

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23 more reader comments:

  1. I want pride scholarships

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:42pm
  2. absolutely fantastic!

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:43pm
  3. This needs to be in more places!

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:43pm
  4. Honestly, this is discrimination. Positive discrimination, but discrimination nontheless.
    If I was offered a scholarship for being gay, I wouldn’t take it

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:43pm
  5. UMSL Next! And there are all kinds of scholarships and grants that discriminate…even on basis of sex and race. It’s not uncommon at all. :)

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:47pm
  6. Fantastic!

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:48pm
  7. oh good grief, scholarships in general are typically provided to people in financial need. so i guess it’s discrimination against wealthy kids whose parents can afford to send their kids to the best schools? SMH

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:49pm
  8. Scholarships are also often offered to very specific groups.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:54pm
  9. How’s it discrimination?

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:54pm
  10. This is not discrimination. A defined group who is faced with unequal opportunities is being helped out, thats it. A child who has been kicked out of his home because he is gay and is not receiving financial assistance from his family to fund his education receives a scholarship from this program, And your going to call that wrong?

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:54pm
  11. You can give me a scholarship for anything and I’d take it.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 5:57pm
  12. No, it’s equalizing the playing field a bit.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:02pm
  13. brave move in middle “ignorant” America

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:02pm
  14. i feel like receiving a scholarship for being gay, is just the same as receiving one for being white, black, yellow….. but at the same time, scholarships are offered by orgs for being tall, short, red-headed, etc… i think the wrong part here is the fact that the school is offering it… they should not offer a scholarship to any one cultural minority or majority… just sayin’

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:04pm
  15. Sad to say this, But I agree!!

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:14pm
  16. My school. The majority (not all, of course) of the students and faculty/staff members here are very accepting and understanding from what I know, so this is no surprise. By the way, it’s not for just any LGBT student or any student claiming to be LGBT.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:22pm
  17. ^ it is indeed sad that people like you guys exist

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:27pm
  18. Are you actually implying that it’s sad that someone with an opinion different than yours exists?

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:27pm
  19. I wish I could afford to turn down scholarships.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:27pm
  20. Fabulous! Other minorities get scholarships, why not LGBT people?

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:10pm
  21. that’s SUPER….i DON’T see it as discrimination…..i see it as being MORE OPEN…..maybe in the past, they wouldn’t GIVE scholarships to gay students.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:26pm
  22. i totally agree with you….in the past, blacks had to fight for such things as well….it’s TIME, to level the field for EVERYONE.

    Posted on Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:29pm
  23. With all the negative discrimination going on, some positive discrimination will have to be put into postition… I really hope for a day when this would no longer be necessary…

    Posted on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 1:41am