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Judy Shepard Speech, 'Laramie Project' Reading Focus on Hate Crimes

September 4, 2002

[ Judy Shepard Photo ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- Judy Shepard, who lost her eldest son in an anti-gay murder on a college campus in 1998, will speak against hate crimes and about her son's tragic death. The lecture, titled "The Legacy of Matthew Shepard," is scheduled to take place in Ohio Wesleyan's Gray Chapel on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. There will be a reception with Mrs. Shepard in the foyer adjacent to Gray Chapel following her talk.

Following Matthew's death, public outcry coast to coast emphasized the growing epidemic of hate crimes. Since Matthew was killed, Mrs. Shepard has spoken nationwide against homophobia and making schools and communities safer for everyone regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Although she and her husband, Dennis, have mourned greatly in the wake of Matthew's death, Mrs. Shepard says she feels Matthew with her every day while she continues his fight for social justice.

Judy and Dennis have started the Matthew Shepard Foundation to help carry on Matthew's legacy of acceptance. Mrs. Shepard has also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to support the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, appeared in two Human Rights Campaign public service announcements, and one public service announcement sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) that aired on MTV in 1999. She has also become actively involved in Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG).

Ohio Wesleyan's Dr. Phyllis Kloda, who taught at Matthew's university when he was killed, as well as a student who accompanied him the night he died, will also be speaking about Matthew Shepard's death. Both Dr. Kloda and Matthew's friend will speak in the afternoon on Sunday, Sept. 8, in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center Benes Room. This will be followed by a dramatic reading at 2 p.m. of The Laramie Project, which was written in response to Matthew Shepard's murder.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the University Communications Office at 740-368-3335.