The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBT+) community and its allies have made significant strides toward equality in the past few years. The legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 and LGBT+ adoption in 2016 were huge. But discriminatory laws aren’t the only challenge faced by people who identify as LGBT+.
Members of this community are more likely to experience hate crimes than any other group, for example. Similarly horrifying: LGBT+ high schoolers are more likely to suffer rapes and attacks than their peers. They may experience bullying, depression, name-calling, and feelings of uncertainty or shame before or after coming out.
On a smaller scale, but still important: These students may struggle to find an LGBT+-identifying role model, like a teacher, mentor, or guidance counselor, and miss out on specific resources and support in school. It’s not uncommon for these students to get behind in their learning.
Some organizations are not only recognizing these challenges, but encouraging LGBT+ students to continue their education despite the adversity. How? Scholarships! There are hundreds out there, and you might meet the requirements for some open to LGBT+ students.
For students across the nation who are making the world better for the LGBT+ community:
- The League Foundation has five scholarships for LGBT+ students. It evaluates applicants based on their leadership roles in LGBT+ activities, among other criteria. Applications open in January and close in April each year. Students will be required to submit their transcripts, two personal essays, two letters of recommendation, and proof of acceptance to an accredited North American institution.
- The Point Foundation values applicants who demonstrate leadership and service to the LGBT+ community. High-achieving students who demonstrate financial need receive priority. The application will open on November 1 and close in January.
- The Queer Foundation invites LGBT+ high school seniors to participate in an essay contest; the prize for winning is a $1,000 scholarship to study queer theory or a related field at a U.S. institution. Its theme changes from year to year, but the foundation always evaluates essays on their arguments, grammar, and originality.
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapters around the country award scholarships to LGBT+ students (and their allies) who are making the world a better place. Requirements and awards vary based on location.
For residents of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington:
The Pride Foundation offers more than 60 scholarships for students pursuing postsecondary education, and each values something different. LGBT+ students with well-defined academic interests, leadership experience, and significant financial need may find an opportunity for themselves. Students are considered residents if they have lived in one of the above states for at least three months prior to the application deadline or if they lived in one of the above states for at least one year within the past five years. This year’s application will open on October 11.
For residents of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York:
The LIVE OUT LOUD Educational Scholarship recognizes graduating high school seniors with financial need and a proven track record of leadership and community service. Students can earn up to $10,000 by completing an application, submitting two letters of recommendation, writing two essays, and participating in an interview.
For students who don’t mind doing a little digging:
The above list of LGBT+ scholarships is nowhere near exhaustive. In fact, there are hundreds of scholarships for students who identify as LGBT+, and some opportunities are very specific. There are some for LGBT+ students studying aviation or law, for example, and others for students attending specific colleges.
The following websites maintain databases of these hundreds of opportunities. Sure, it may require a little digging to find the right scholarships for you, but just think of the payoff!
For students who want to expand their funding options outside of LGBT+-related scholarships:
To increase your chances of getting a scholarship, apply, apply, apply! Once you’ve scouted out LGBT+-specific scholarships, remember that the search doesn’t have to be over. There are scholarships abound for students of specific cultural backgrounds, races, religions, and genders. You may also qualify for scholarships open to students from your local community or the college you have chosen. Do a Google search, talk to your counselor, and don’t stop applying!