Liam Jameson once dreaded going to school, felt alone and afraid and tried killing himself more than once.
He’s in a better place now after starting a gay-straight alliance and becoming a leader at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa.
But on Thursday (5 May) when other student leaders at the school will be presented with scholarships at a special assembly, Jameson will not.
It’s not that he wasn’t chosen for one.
The Eychaner Foundation, which awards scholarships to LGBTI youth leaders, selected Jameson for its Matthew Shepard Scholarship – a four-year $40,000 prize – but has been told it cannot present it publicly as it had in previous years under a different principal.
‘I’ve worked hard to prevent suicides, and having this scholarship presented allows other students to learn that LGBTQ students are valued in society, not shunned,’ Jameson writes in a letter to the school. ‘That’s why the Committee presents the scholarships at Senior Awards Programs, to try and help save other young lives who feel isolated and worthless, like I once did.’
The foundation and Jameson have launched a Change.org petition hoping to get the school to change its mind with only a few days left before the event.
The petition states in part: ‘After struggling with his self worth, and several suicide attempts, Liam has accepted the responsibility to help prevent other young students from attempting suicide. He has helped build One Dowling Family into a safe space for students to discuss their lives, fears and anxieties, and to find a core group of friends.
‘Please find your better angels and don’t turn a cold shoulder to Liam and other Dowling students who need to know they are valued and cared for.’