Iowa Bishop And School Compromise, Agree To Present Gay Student With Scholarship

Earlier in the week we reported on Keaton Fuller, a gay Des Moines student who wasn’t going to be allowed to accept a prestigious scholarship during his graduation ceremony because the foundation it came from supported gay rights.

Well, it looks like a compromise of sorts has been reached: Bishop Martin Amos, who overruled the wishes of administrators at Prince of Peace Catholic School when he put the kibosh on the presentation, says the school superintendent will read a script by the Eychaner Foundation and a scholarship committee member will present the award, worth $40,000 toward tuition at the University of Iowa. Both Fuller and the foundation, which gives the scholarship to outstanding students who have worked for LGBT equality in their community, approve of the compromise.

Personally it makes us nauseous—but maybe that’s because we’re not obligated to salute the ethical contortions the Church routinely employs to keep its flock in line.  We know Fuller didn’t choose to be Catholic, but hopefully going to a big state school will broaden his horizons. We hear the Unitarians are very gay friendly.


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  • B

    One of the roles of a bishop (like any middle-level manager) is to make sure there isn’t any really bad PR. Guess he realized his mistake – it is not in the Catholic church’s interest to discriminate against gays in a case like this that will make the church appear both mean-spirited and ridiculous to the general public, particularly when there is no compelling theological argument. You won’t find Biblical injunctions against giving gay kids scholarships for trying to help others, if only because the people who wrote the Bible probably never heard of a scholarship.

  • Neil

    Uh, yeah, he does choose to be Catholic. Yes, many people are raised to believe certain things, certain mythologies, but once you are a thinking adult, going to college and accepting scholarships and all — uh, yeah, you choose to believe what you believe, you choose to ascribe to religious doctrine or not, and, yes, you choose which school you go to. I’m just taking issue with the author’s words here. This Alex P. Keaton guy doesn’t bother me in the least. Congrats to him.

  • Mikel D McGrew

    Not only is the University of Iowa gay friendly, the city itself – Iowa City – often called The Athens of the Midwest, is is a haven for members of the LBGT community. In 1969-70, Iowa City had one of the first chapters of the Gay Liberation Front. I grew up in Iowa City, came out in 1969, and have always considered it to be one of the best places for LGBT people, and the only place in Iowa I would consent to live.

  • Mikel D McGrew

    @Neil: If he worked for a gay organization as a hight school student, he is not likely to be a rabid Roman Catholic and may well choose another path once he is on his own. Let us all remember, he was an underage teenager living at home, under the domination of his parents.

  • dvlaries

    No, he wasn’t born Catholic, but like most of us, was baptized into the faith before the soft spot on his head hardened, and indoctrinated with its unyielding dogma long before he reached any age of reason. They have to get you when you’re young, and they know it.
    Now, yes, he’s old enough to reject the spirit-crushing conformity they would enshroud his entire life with. After all, every organized religion comes down to, “do our way, because we said so, or burn in Hell.” Just like every government, every religion knows the most cost effective means of keeping people in line is through the inculcation of fear.

  • Ron

    Not Des Moines. Clinton. A much smaller, industrial town on the Mississippi.

  • William

    So he had to agree to let a student get something that they deserved?


  • Andy

    Does this mean the bishop has been caught in a compromising situation? Checkmate!

  • bystander9529

    That will be an interesting commencement, and I hope we’ll get some video.

    All indications are that Keaton’s parents have been fully supportive of their son’s application and acceptance of the Matthew Shepard Scholarship. Their voices may have helped the bishop understand how his announcement affected the whole family, something he likely hadn’t considered. As long as the donor and the recipient find this arrangement acceptable, I’ll be respectful that in a case like this, a separate accommodation appears to be as close to equal as possible.

    Congratulations, Keaton and Fuller family, for showing real class throughout.

  • Christopher

    @Neil: NO he did not choose to be Catholic. Actually, we have no idea if he is Catholic. He attends a Catholic High School, anyone who has been through that understands the difference.

    For instance, I attended 2 years of Catholic schooling, not because of any personal religious conviction, but because, in my small town, Catholic School was the only private school. The education, atmosphere, facilities, all surpassed the local public school, and I was fortunate that my parents could afford to send me there.

    However, attendance at a Catholic High school does not indicate any specific level of belief, or adherence to a religious code.

    And no William, his acceptance of the scholarship was never in doubt or danger, the question was whether or not the presentation would be made publicly at the graduation. And like any private facility, this High School was never really under any obligation to allow presentations by outside groups. While I am glad the Church did the right thing here, this really wasn’t a rights issue. Private organizations, like this private high school, are not bound to the same standards as a public school.

    I think, as part of the gay community, that sometimes we need to step back and decide what our goals are. Our rhetoric plainly states that we are not at war with religion, and that we have no plans to force churches to accept us, we just want our civil rights and rights to civil marriage. Then we go and force, thru public sentiment, the presentation of a gay scholarship at a Catholic School….thereby proving all the negative rhetoric on the other side that we are at war with religion. Sometimes, we just walk right into their trap. This will be on every anti-gay fundraiser letter there is…”Gays force themselves into Catholic High schools to corrupt under age children”

    Sometimes, we just don’t think these things through.

  • Christopher

    @Christopher: Sorry *12 years

  • 1equalityUSA

    The money that went to lawsuits could have provided a million scholarships. Even if they write a letter such as the one Christopher describes above, most everyone sees the Catholic Church as bereft of morality and would put into context the Bishop’s obnoxiousness about this award. This was a mean-spirited, bigoted decision for which damage control was the Church’s only option. Congratulations, Mr. Keaton, now run away as fast as you can and use your talent to push for Separation of Church and State, so the rest of America doesn’t have to be burdened by the doctrine du jour.

  • 1equalityUSA

    dvlaries, (#5), “No, he wasn’t born Catholic, but like most of us, was baptized into the faith before the soft spot on his head hardened…” These are the kinds of lines that keep me coming back to this site. It’s like a meal sometimes. Thanks for cooking!

  • Cam

    This is the same type of thing that happened to the Mormons after Prop 8.

    They got blindsided by bad P.R. Years ago you didn’t have the internet to spread these stories around so fast, AND even if they did, people wouldn’t have been so pro-gay.

    The world is changing too fast for these burned out old bigots.

  • Kurt

    No decent Catholic parent names their child Keaton

Comments are closed.