ON OCTOBER 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a twenty-one year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally attacked and tied to a fence in a field outside of Laramie, Wyoming, and left to die. On October 12, Matt succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado.
In the aftermath of Matt’s death, his parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to honor his life and aspirations. Inspired by the tragedy they endured, the initial purpose of the Foundation was to teach parents with children who may be questioning their sexuality to love and accept them for who they are, and to not throw them away.
Today, the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s mission is to amplify the story of Matt to inspire individuals, organizations, and communities to embrace the dignity and equality of all people. Through local, regional, and national outreach, the Foundation empowers individuals to find their voice to create change and challenge communities to identify and address hate that lives within our schools, neighborhoods, and homes. Their work is an extension of Matt’s passion to foster a more caring and just world.
The Foundation continues to share his story and embody his vigor for civil rights to change the hearts and minds of others to accept everyone as they are. Judy, Dennis, and the staff hope that, one day, the Foundation may be able to close its doors. But the same hate and violence that sparked the Foundation’s formation still exists today, both at home and abroad. They will continue to work tirelessly to ensure safety, visibility, and inclusiveness for the entire LGBTQ+ community until that ideal becomes reality.
To support the Matthew Shepard Foundation with a tax-deductible donation, or to learn more, please visit:www.matthewshepard.org