Matthew Shepard Foundation
HeadquartersCasper, Wyoming

The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded in December 1998 by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998[1].

Created to honor Matthew in a manner that was appropriate to his dreams, beliefs and aspirations, the Foundation seeks to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion & Acceptance" through its varied educational, outreach and advocacy programs and by continuing to tell Matthew's story.[2]

The Foundation focuses on three primary areas: Erasing Hate in our society, putting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Youth First and ensuring Equality for all LGBT Americans.

Organization's Mission, Vision and Goal[edit | edit source]

Mission[edit | edit source]

To support diversity programs in education and to help youth organizations establish environments where young people can feel safe and be themselves.

Vision[edit | edit source]

To educate and enlighten others on the importance of diversity, understanding, compassion, acceptance and respect. Everyone must participate in developing solutions to problems that are rooted in ignorance and hatred.

Goal[edit | edit source]

To replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.

Equality Project[edit | edit source]

The Matthew Shepard Foundation "Equality" Project works for the advancement of LGBT equality by educating the LGBT and allied communities on the issues that affect them and providing them ways to take action.[3]

"Get Out The Vote" Program[edit | edit source]

Utilizing print ads and online marketing, as well as op-eds and personal appearances by Judy Shepard, the Foundation embarked on an aggressive campaign in 2006 to get members of the LGBT and allied communities to pledge to vote on Matthew's behalf and complete 5 voter-related tasks: Register! Learn! Pass It On! Vote! Stay Involved!

Civil Rights Program[edit | edit source]

The Matthew Shepard Foundation lends its support and assistance to federal, state and local legislative efforts and ballot initiatives that impact the LGBT community. The Foundation primarily focuses on these issues within the states of Wyoming and Colorado.

Erase Hate Project[edit | edit source]

The Matthew Shepard Foundation's "Erase Hate" Project is the heart of the organization's work and mission.[4]

"The Legacy of Matthew Shepard"[edit | edit source]

Through her national speaking program, Judy Shepard shares Matthew's values of respect and dignity for others[5]. She has said that she is determined to make a difference - to do what she can to ensure that no other parent will have to endure what she has. Judy speaks to audiences nationwide about what they can do to make their schools and communities more accepting of everyone, regardless of sex, national origin, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression.

Hate Crimes Legislative Program[edit | edit source]

Since 1998, the Matthew Shepard Foundation has been working for Congressional passage of the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA), more commonly known as the Hate Crimes Bill. From speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee to regularly lobbying Congress, Judy Shepard has been advocating and pushing for this important protection for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. In addition, the Foundation continues to support and aid in the passage of statewide Hate Crimes legislation.

"Small Bear, Big Dreams"[edit | edit source]

This Pre-K-12 educational program teaches the values of respect for all people and acceptance of individual differences. The life of Matthew Shepard is chronicled in the storybook, "Small Bear, Big Dreams". Within its pages, teddy bears celebrate Matthew's life and aspirations as well as his struggles. A vision of hope and the celebration of diversity are central to this touching story. The educational program includes an activity guide, teacher/parent's guide, and an assortment of unique teddy bears that illustrate the value of diversity. A pro-active approach is taken in the lessons to teach compassion, acceptance and respect; as well as promote the promise that one person can make a difference.

Youth First Project[edit | edit source]

The Matthew Shepard Foundation "Youth First" Project's main objective is to provide resources and tools that are available locally to young people, service providers and educational institutions, as well as highlight the importance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth. The goal is to ensure that LGBT and allied youth have a significant voice and resources in the movement.[6]

The Youth Lounge at[edit | edit source]

An online community and resource center for LGBT, queer, questioning and allied youth, the Youth Lounge - located at - provides resources about LGBT youth friendly shelters, outreach centers and empowerment programs across the country. It includes moderated chats, discussion boards, and informational columns from notable individuals in the LGBT and allied communities. The Youth Lounge is currently being re-designed with a projected launch in the Spring of 2007.

The Matthew Shepard Point Scholarship[edit | edit source]

The Matthew Shepard Foundation and the The Point Foundation have partnered to create the Matthew Shepard Point Scholarship, naming three scholars each year to receive annual college scholarships of $10,000 or more. In addition to the monetary award, the scholars become members of the Matthew Shepard Foundation's Youth Advisory Council. Selection of recipients is based on their "academic achievements, as well as a current involvement with helping advance the LGBT community, as well as a demonstrated commitment to helping advance equality in the future."[7]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

Chronological order of publication (oldest first)

  • Loffreda, Beth (2000). Losing Matt Shepard: life and politics in the aftermath of anti-gay murder. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11859-7. 
  • Fondakowski, Leigh; Kaufman, Moises (2001). The Laramie project. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-375-72719-1. 
  • Garceau, Dee; Basso, Matthew; McCall, Laura (2001). Across the Great Divide: cultures of manhood in the American West. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92471-5. 
  • Swigonski, Mary E. ;Mama, Robin S.;Ward, Kelly (2001). From Hate Crimes to Human Rights: A Tribute to Matthew Shepard. New York: Routledge. ISBN 1-56023-256-0. 
  • Patrick Hinds; Romaine Patterson (2005). The Whole World Was Watching: Living in the Light of Matthew Shepard. Advocate Books. ISBN 1-55583-901-0. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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