19 April 2012

LGBT Scholarships

Today one of my students asked about scholarships that might be available to her.  Now, I don't know about very many of them off the top of my head, but I know that there are scholarships available for members of her race, and for people who have lived through some of the circumstances that have formed her life.

"What about a scholarship for gay and lesbian students?"

She had, in one of her writing assignments, revealed her orientation to me.  So the question was a surprise to me only because no one else had asked it, and I'd never thought about it.

Turns out, there are such scholarships available. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) maintains one of the most extensive lists of them.  Many of the awards are intended for LGBT students who want to pursue studies in a particular area, such as law or public policy, or who have shown a commitment to activism and other areas deemed vital to the LGBT community.

While the number of LGBT scholarships is nowhere near as great as it is for scholarships targeted to other groups of people, it is still greater than what was available when I was an undergraduate.  As far as I know, none were available then.  I'm not even sure any were available when I was in graduate school.  Then again, I was so deeply in the closet that I would not have applied.  In fact, I didn't know any self-identified trans people all through school.  

So, while the availability of such scholarships is a positive sign, I have to wonder how many students who might qualify for them won't apply because it would mean "outing" themselves.  I guess, as the activists say, the work of change is never done.