CLINTON — A gay rights organization and the Diocese of Davenport have reached a compromise on the presentation of a scholarship to an openly gay Catholic high school student in Clinton.

Keaton Fuller, a senior at Prince of Peace Catholic Academy and College Preparatory, has been named one of eight recipients of the Matthew Shepard Scholarship, which is awarded to gay Iowa high school students by the Des Moines-based Eychaner Foundation. Shepard was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in October 1998 in Wyoming.

Fuller, 18, was informed last month that despite assurances from the school that a representative of the foundation would be allowed to present him with his $40,000 scholarship during the May 20 graduation ceremony, the Diocese of Davenport had decided not to allow the representative to make the presentation. The diocese cited concerns that the speaker would contradict the teachings of the Catholic church.

Fuller went public with his opposition to the decision, and his story received national media attention.

The foundation announced Friday that an agreement had been reached that will allow a representative of the diocese to read a pre-approved statement from the Eychaner Foundation during the ceremony, and a representative of the foundation will present Fuller with an eagle statue as a token of his award, but the representative will not speak during the ceremony.

Diocese spokesman Deacon David Montgomery said talks between the diocese and the foundation began after a f

face-to-face meeting last week between Fuller’s parents and Bishop Martin Amos.

In a news release, Amos congratulated Fuller on his scholarship and commended the foundation for its work in combating bullying.

“Principles of mutual respect and careful listening exhibited by all parties allowed a solution to emerge,” Amos said. “We have many things we agree upon and have also agreed to accept the fact that we also have some things we disagree about. But that shouldn’t prevent all of us from celebrating Keaton Fuller’s success over 13 years in Catholic schools and our mutual hope for his success in college and beyond.”

Rich Eychaner, founder of the Eychaner foundation, called the compromise “an eloquent way to resolve the dispute and respect the sensitivities on both sides.”

Eychaner said it never was his group’s intent to have a dispute with the church or create a problem for the school and he was “tremendously pleased” that an agreement had been reached.

“I’m ecstatic about all of this,” Fuller said after school Friday. “I am just really, really pleased to know that we were able to reach a compromise and that enough people cared about the issue to get it this far. It’s incredible.”

Fuller, who plans to study cinema at the University of Iowa, said he has been receiving supportive messages from all over the country and even one from Germany, and the school has been taking calls and getting letters from supporters all week, too.

His mother, Pat Fuller, a former counselor and teacher at Prince of Peace, said she is grateful for the kindness shown to her son during this time, especially by the other students in his graduating class.

“I think I’ve been able to help get a message of equality out there to everybody and to help pave the way for future gay students, not just at Prince of Peace, but anywhere, who might struggle,” Keaton Fuller said, “and let them know its OK to be who they are.”

Locations

(13) comments

Bo

Glad to see matters settled in a manner satisfactory to all - young man receives public recogntion and bishop able to coopt any possibility of a grandstanding of homosexual agenda by Eyechaner. Sadly this story has provided yet another opportunity for the army out there eagerly waiting in the wings to pounce on the RC church with historical ignorance and hateful speech ala Dan Savage.

Lagniape

I'm curious as to what exactly this mysterious "homosexual agenda" is ? Especially as it pertains to the mission of the Eychaner Foundation?

Basic dignity?
Greater appreciation of show tunes?

What EXACTLY were you afraid that the foundation was going to do or as they were presenting the award to Mr. Fuller?

senor citizen

After all this hoopla, I would just stay home from graduation if I were another student in the same class. Of course I couldn't do that because I'd get sued by the "civil rights" activivsts. What a whiner.

just_a_voice

No, you wouldn't get sued, probably just laughed at for being so pathetic.

Didn't you read anything about the situation? He was well liked by his class, and they ALL backed him, as did the school board, principal, and parents of the students.

Hoopla? Nope. You are free to show how bigoted you are, the other students would be embarrassed by your behavior.

SoftwareEngineer

It's good that the parties came to an amicable and workable agreement. I can fully understand the Church's concern that a zealous representative of an advocacy group might attempt to turn the graduation ceremony into a publicity stunt or use the podium to slam the Catholic Church. I don't think anyone should expect POP or the Diocese to risk having the ceremony used for advocacy against the Church or the Church's teachings. I hope things go as planned. FYI, I'm not Catholic.

zetar

In other news today:

Is the Catholic Church investigating the Legion of Christ ("The Pedophile Priest and the Popes
Father Marcial Maciel of the Legion of Christ had powerful Vatican connections," ABC News)?

Or is the Catholic Church investigating THE GIRL SCOUTS?

If you guessed the Girl Scouts you are correct? Why is the Catholic Church investigating the Girl Scouts and not pedophile priests? Draw your own conclusions.

bailaw
bailaw

There is an agreement that makes everybody happy. Even a catholic church critic such as myself has to say, thank you, Bishop Amos.

Yardbird

If this young man is treated any differently than other scholarship recipients, he should sue the Davenport Diocese and the bishop. He has a legal right to that, and they cannot discriminate against him under penalty of law regardless of what their 5th century teachings are.

I would hope that he has this in writing from the high priest.

getinvolved

The church doesn't have a legal obligation to treat his scholarship the same as other scholarships. It's a church -- they can discriminate against him if they want to.

I'm glad they will have the award presented to this young man. He most certainly deserves it!

just_a_voice

Not true. The school signed a contract with the organization, making it one of the terms and conditions of the scholarship.

Lagniape

IANAL, but I don't think that the Fullers have a "legal right" to a particular type of award presentation. Prince of Peace and the Davenport diocese are private organizations.

This wasn't about legal rights but about doing the right thing by the young man. It's a good thing that the involved parties worked out a way to do just that.

bkw1949

much ado about nothing and I'm glad they reached an agreement. Congratulations to Keaton.

Lagniape

Still a little silly for the diocese to be acting out of fear in all of this. I guess having the diocesan superintendent present the award and read the approved "script" will mean that the audience won't catch the g@y or something....

However, at the end of the day, good on the diocese, Eychaner Foundation and the Fullers for arriving at an agreement. And most importantly, congratulations to all of the students that will be honored during the school's award ceremony.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.