Judy Shephard

Judy Shephard

Student Senate Hosts Gender Issues Week

February 28, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Judy Shepard, mother of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, will give the keynote speech on the acceptance of gay rights and equality on March 5 at 8 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center (300 E. Beecher Street).

This event is part of Illinois Wesleyan University’s annual Gender Issues Week which sets out to inform, educate and provide programs dealing with issues pertinent to women and men, and it is free and open to the public.

On October 8, 1998, Matthew Shepard, an openly gay man from Wyoming, was murdered in his college town of Laramie, Wyo. His death was the result of a hate crime and his mother, Judy Shepard, has since then committed her life to fighting for gay rights. His death was also the inspiration for the HBO movie turned play, The Laramie Project.

In May of 1999 Shepard testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act where she said, “I can assure opponents of this legislation firsthand, it was not words or thoughts, but violent acts that killed my son.”

In September of this same year she appeared in public service announcements against hate crimes sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Shepard and her husband Dennis started the Matthew Shepard Foundation in honor of their son’s legacy. The foundation embraces individuality and works for gay and lesbian equality and produced two Human Rights Campaign public service televisions spots in 1999 focused on curbing anti-gay violence and promoting understanding of gay issues which Shepard appeared in.

Shepard is the executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. She has spoken to over one million young adults on the impact of hateful words and hate crimes, the importance of acceptance and appreciating diversity.

Gender Issues Week Events

March 3 (Monday)

SAVVI Discussion Panel of Women of Domestic Violence in the Davidson Room of Memorial Center (104 E. University Street) at 7 p.m.

March 4 (Tuesday)

Non-Hate Pledge Day throughout the day starting at noon in the Dugout in Memorial Center (104 E. University Street).

March 5 (Wednesday)

Judy Shepard Speech, “The Matthew Shepard Story,” at 8 p.m. in Hansen Student Center (300 E. Beecher Street).

March 6 (Thursday)

Keith Boykin speech, "Diversity Without Division: Building an Inclusive Campus," 8  p.m. in Hansen Student Center (300 E. Beecher Street).

March 7 (Friday)

Wear Black for Peace Day

March 8 (Saturday)

First Year Experience Drag Show 9 p.m. Kemp Hall (1207 N. Main Street).

For more information contact Aaron Massey of Illinois Wesleyan's Student Senate at amassey@iwu.edu.

Contact: Allegra Gallian, ’09, (309) 556-3181