Last week, awesome gay teen Jake Stallman of Tipton, Iowa received the Spirit of Matthew award from the Matthew Shepard Foundation for overcoming bullying and starting an anti-bullying coalition in his high school.
According to KWQC of Davenport, Iowa, Jake was on the receiving end of anti-gay bullying that escalated from teasing to death threats after he came out in the seventh grade.
NBC Nightly News also reports that his mother Tania was a source of strength or Jake, even helping to stand up against bullying in their small town.
“I decided to start an anti-bullying campaign on Facebook,” Tania said. “When I started it more people were coming forward, letting him know that they had the same concerns you know, with being bullied in the school district, elementary, middle and high school.”
After Jake and his mother turned to the Matthew Shepard foundation, they invited him to blog for the foundation, in turn becoming a symbol and ally for other gay students in his school and his town. With his newfound confidence, Jake became the first male cheerleader in his high school’s history. “I feel like I became a warrior, a fighter. And I think I became a fighter because there are kids out there who are struggling right now,” said Stallman. “And if I’m not strong, who’s going to be strong for them?”
We could only wish that we were as strong and brave as this kid at that age. Well done, Jake. You can follow up with Jake’s blog here and watch Jake receive the Spirit of Matthew award below: