- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 15, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - Alyn Libman won a $15,000-a-year scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley

with a resume that showed more than just Miss Libman’s athletic achievement and academic potential.

It also showed years of ridicule, beatings and threats, along with Miss Libman’s decision to become a boy in 11th grade.

“It felt amazing to actually be embraced by someone who didn’t just dismiss me for being different,” said Miss Libman, a 19-year-old aspiring civil rights lawyer and the first transgendered person to win a scholarship from the Point Foundation, a Chicago nonprofit organization that has awarded more than $1 million to college-bound homosexuals since 2002.

For those seeking financial aid to attend college, it doesn’t necessarily hurt to be homosexual or transgender. An increasing number of charities, professional groups and universities offer scholarships on the basis of sexual orientation.

More than 50 such scholarships are available nationwide — from the $1,000 scholarships that Zami, an advocacy group in Atlanta, is giving to 21 black homosexuals this year, to the $2,000 awards the United Church of Christ distributed to homosexual seminarians and the $3,000 fellowships that George Washington University administers so homosexuals can spend a semester studying politics in the nation’s capital.

Some groups, such as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, also make financial aid available to children of homosexual parents or to heterosexual students who have worked to reduce homophobia in their communities.

“We want to be a beacon for some kid who is out there and feeling really lost and ashamed because society says they are nothing and nobody,” said Zami Executive Director Mary Anne Adams, who launched her group’s Audre Lorde scholarship program, named for the late lesbian poet, in 1997.

Sexual orientation alone usually is not enough to get these scholarships. Scholastic aptitude, extracurricular activities and leadership also are needed to qualify.

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