As students return to colleges around America, money is on a lot of minds. But gay students can face especially tricky choices if their parents threaten to cut off college funding after they come out: Conduct secret relationships, say no to a love life, sublimate emotions, or hope they can snag enough loans to stay in school without financial help from their families.
Since 2005, the Indiana University Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association has provided emergency grants to undergraduate students whose families withdraw financial support. The GLBTAA also provides academic scholarships. According to a press release, “consideration is given for involvement in activities promoting diversity or raising awareness of GLBT and related issues.”
Last week, spurred by an anonymous gift of $500,000, the GLBTAA elevated its existing scholarship program to “campaign” level. The organization says it’s “the nation’s first-ever scholarship campaign devoted to assisting GLBT students and promoting leadership on GLBT concerns.”
If I were a lesbian, gay, bi, queer, or questioning high-school senior shopping for a place to spend the next four or five years, this news would dramatically increase my interest in attending Indiana. Indiana University is one of 55 colleges that scored 5 out of 5 stars in Campus Pride’s LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index, but by making such a clear commitment to helping queer students stay in school if their families freak out and rewarding LGBT leadership, members of the queer alumni group are vouching for their alma mater’s queer-friendliness. There may not be such a thing as a gay legacy student in the traditional sense of a kid whose lesbian mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother all attended an institution, but the GLBTAA scholarship campaign might well be a new kind of LGBT legacy.