Coming out of the
closet may open the door to college for some students
as scholarship money for gays and lesbians becomes more
available. Donations to scholarships based on sexual
orientation have grown in Indiana and nationwide as
young people acknowledge their homosexuality at an
earlier age than previous generations, The
Indianapolis Star reported Sunday.
"More students are out in college than ever
before, so the need is more visible," said Brett Genny
Beemyn, an Ohio State University instructor who heads
a national group of campus directors of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender services.
Corporations, individuals, foundations, and
charities have met the need with donations. In
Indiana, at least three scholarship programs are
available for gay students.
Brett Janecek, a University of Notre Dame
sophomore from Billings, Mont., received a full
scholarship through the Point Foundation of Chicago. He
estimated the scholarship would save him more than $40,000
this school year.
"All I've heard from my parents is that being
gay is not going to help you in anything," said
Janecek, a former high school football player and
student body president who came out as gay during his
freshman year at Notre Dame. But, he added, "these
people absolutely understand and embrace you for your sexuality."
The Point Foundation was formed four years ago
to fight discrimination against gay, lesbian, and
transgender students. The group started with $150,000
and now has a $3 million budget for scholarships and student
services. TimeWarner, CitiGroup, Abercrombie & Fitch,
and other companies have become donors.
Foundation director Vance Lancaster said he
expects about 5,000 applications this year. That's
more than twice as many as last year. "We're trying to
grow really quickly because there's such a demand out
there," Lancaster said. "A lot of our donors say, 'I wish
there were something like this when I was growing up.' "