Judy Shepard Visits Sayre
On March 12, 2019, Founder's Day, Sayre welcomed internationally renowned speaker Judy Shepard to our campus.
Judy Shepard lectures worldwide, sharing the mission of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which "empowers individuals to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach, advocacy and resource programs. We strive to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance."
In October 1998, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their 21 year-old son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Their work is an extension of Matt's passion to foster a more caring and just world. Mrs. Shepard came to share Matt's story and embody his vigor for civil rights to change the hearts and minds of others to accept everyone as they are. Matthew's murder was denounced as a hate crime and brought attention to the lack of hate crime legislation in numerous states. His remains were interred at Washington National Cathedral this past October, the 20th anniversary of his death.
Mrs. Shepard's visit coincided with Sayre's March production of The Laramie Project. Based on interviews with Laramie residents in the aftermath of the crime, this play takes on a documentary style and draws from hundreds of interviews conducted with town members and from news reports. Last year, the play was performed 150 times in the U.S.
During her visit, she addressed our 8th-12th grade students in an assembly and met with small groups of students including the members of our the Justice League, the Gay/Straight Alliance, the Diversity Awareness Club, as well as the cast of The Laramie Project for one-on-one question and answer sessions.
Mrs. Shepard's visit and our production of The Laramie Project are examples of our commitment to implement Sayre's Diversity Vision Statement that states, "As a community, we are bound by the shared responsibility to foster a spirit of mutual respect and kindness. We value equity, justice, and the diverse perspectives of the world."