The Matthew Shepard Foundation works to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance through educational programs & advocacy.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation was founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in Wyoming in October 1998.
Early on, the Foundation zeroed in on four unique ways it could help make a difference in today’s world. These ways are as important today as they were 15 years ago.
First, through Judy Shepard’s personal appearances, the Foundation relentlessly tells Matthew’s story and, just as critically, the family’s response. Judy has a unique ability to tell this story and touch people’s hearts about the importance of standing up for the LGBT community.
Second, the Foundation supports schools and theatre companies producing “The Laramie Project,” a spoken-word play that tells Matt’s story and the community’s reaction to his murder. The Foundation provides educational and technical support for putting on the play, and where it can, provides on-the-ground assistance to augment the productions with community forums.
Third, the Foundation provides online resources and a blogging platform for youth who are struggling to deal with coming out, family acceptance, bullying and harassment, or faith issues. Through a website called Matthew’s Place, the Foundation is particularly focused on helping youth who live in rural areas who have few in-person resources to which they can turn. Every week, we hear back from teenagers and young adults using our resources who tell us that we’ve given them the inspiration and the tools to lead healthy, productive lives.
Lastly, the Foundation advocates for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Because of its unique voice, the Foundation is a valuable ally in the ongoing fight to pass public policies that will ensure all LGBT Americans have their full and complete civil rights.