When you’re a teenager, it’s difficult enough to figure out who you are and what the hell you’re all about without other people judging, mocking, and hating you. I remember being teased every single day in high school by this one kid (Dan, who-shall-remain-last-nameless-but-was-totally-Asian) because I was quiet and awkward and had a penchant for flowing Ren Faire–style dresses. (Shut up.) To me, that seemed intolerable — enough so that I begged my mother to allow me to stay home from school day after day.
I can’t even imagine what it must be like for teenagers who are gay or transgender. What if I’d been a guy in a Ren Faire dress?
Things have become a bit more progressive since I was an adolescent, many high schools still miss the mark vis-à-vis providing resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students. Thankfully, unless you’re stuck in the cultural and sexual abyss that is the Bible Belt, colleges and universities now provide plenty of on- and off-campus support and community opportunities for GLBT students. In Boston, it seems that all of the major academic players have at least one student organization dedicated to the needs of GLBT students.
Getting into and paying for college in the first place is a hurdle that all potential students face, but for GLBT students, just finishing high school can be difficult. Jorge Valencia, the executive director and CEO of the Point Foundation — a scholarship fund dedicated to providing financial aid, mentoring, and leadership training to GLBT students — says that gay and transgender students are much more likely than their straight counterparts to drop out of high school, often because of verbal and physical harassment from peers.
“Young people are now coming out at a much earlier age,” says Valencia, “There are students that endure violence and harassment every day because they want to live their lives as who they are. The Point Foundation wants to reward those students who have endured, and proven to be leaders.”
Designed to support their scholars through the entirety of their academic careers, the Point Foundation scholarship is available to a range of students, from those entering undergraduate programs all the way up the academic ladder to PhD candidates. The fund looks for students who have exhibited academic prowess and leadership skills, and especially a need for financial, emotional, and social assistance. “The masses could really learn from inter-generational mentoring, which we provide,” Valencia says. “By targeting young people who have leadership prowess, we believe we will create a ripple effect.”
For more information about the Point Foundation, visit thepointfoundation.org or call 866.337.6468.
Once you’re in
So you’ve been accepted to college. You’ve secured funding. Mom and Dad (or Mom and Mom, or Dad and Dad, or whatever) have dropped you off at the dorm, suitcase in one hand, bong in the other. You’re here, you’re queer . . . now what?
GLBT students in Boston have it good. Massachusetts has proven itself to be a progressive state (er, commonwealth) again and again, with highlights including the 2004 legalization of gay marriage and the continual election of legislators who are gay and/or are staunch gay-rights advocates. That includes Cambridge mayor Ken Reeves, who was the first openly gay African-American mayor in the country, and US Rep. Barney Frank, whose ubiquitous “Frank Rule” aims to defeat hypocrisy and out closeted Republicans who publicly condemn homosexuality.