The Matthew Shepard Foundation has been running for twenty years since 1998, the foundation aims to replace hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. Over Twenty Years has passed since Judy Shepard’s son, Matthew, was murdered in a vicious anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming.
‘Matthew was tied to a fence where the two men assaulted him with the butt of a pistol, he was beaten and left to die’.Matthew Shepard. (2015). About Matthew Shepard Foundation. Available: https://www.matthewshepard.org/about-us/. Last accessed 27th November 2018.
Almost 18 hours later he was found by a cyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. Furthermore, as recorded by James Brooke in The New York Times on October 13th 1998, ‘Gay man dies from attack, fanning outrage and debate’.
Judy and Dennis Shepard started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to honour his life and to raise awareness for LGBT youths. The foundation specifically aims towards those parents who have LGBT children and works to help them accept their children for who they really are.
As quoted from the Matthew Shepard Foundation website ‘We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure safety, visibility, and inclusiveness for the entire LGBT community until that ideal becomes reality’. Matthew Shepard. (2015). About Matthew Shepard Foundation. Available: https://www.matthewshepard.org/about-us/. Last accessed 27th November 2018.
Although Matthew’s life was short lived he continues to inspire and challenge both the youth and adults to erase all forms of hate.
To contribute to the awareness of LGBT discrimination, the foundation has set up merchandise to spread the message of ‘Erase Hate’.
Furthermore, Matthew is one of many youths who have been subject to hate crimes, in 2003 Tyrone Unsworth a thirteen-year-old boy committed suicide after years of bullying motivated by his homosexuality. His death caused mass international attention as well as national attention in Australia.
In 2004 the Civil Partnership Act was passed, this granted civil partnerships in the UK. However, in 2018, over 16 years later, there is still homophobic attitudes and heterosexist discrimination towards the LGBT community. Although the law of same-sex marriage meant a reduction in the suicide rates of 134,000 fewer children, the suicide rate amongst the LGBT community is still more than double the suicide rates amongst the sexual majority groups.
‘22% of non-LGBT youth say their biggest problem in School is exams and grades’
’26 of LGBT youth say their biggest problems are not feeling accepted by their family, trouble with bullying and a fear to be open with everyone’.
Unbelievably, homosexuality is punishable by death in 12 countries (Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia and United Arab Emirates) while the LGBT relationships are illegal in 74 countries. Bullying by peers has been shown to be a huge contributing factor in many suicides even if not all the attacks have been specifically addressing gender or sexuality.
LGBT students are three times more likely to say they do not feel safe at school and 90% of LGBT students have been harassed or assaulted during the past year. This bullying can consist of physical abuse but also mental, e.g. name-calling and spreading rumors.
This discrimination needs to stop, what’s the point of discriminating someone due to their sexual orientation. If you are English, French, Polish, African, Italian, Asian or any other background how would u feel being discriminated against just due to your culture, this is the same as being discriminated for being LGBT, It is not fair and must stop now.