HRC Awards Scholarships to Student Activists Committed to Achieving LGBT Equality

by HRC Staff

Generation Equality Scholarships Awarded to Students at Portland Community College, Emory University and Columbus State Community College

Washington - The Human Rights Campaign - the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization - today announced the winners of the Generation Equality Scholarship for LGBT and allied students who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to equality. The $2000 scholarships are part of HRC Foundation�s Youth and Campus Outreach Program, which aims to provide tools, facilitate connections and empower young people to fight for LGBT equality on campus and beyond.

�We know many LGBT students face obstacles in the pursuit of education, whether from a lack of family support or negative experiences in the classroom or on campus. The Generation Equality Scholarships were created to provide exceptional students with the funding that they deserve and need to ensure a successful college experience,� said Candace Gingrich-Jones, who oversees the Foundation's Youth and Campus Outreach Program. �Our three scholarship recipients embody the passion and commitment to queer activism that will hasten the day when equal protection and full equality become reality for LGBT Americans.�

Over 400 applications were received from all 50 states. Students were evaluated and selected in three categories: first-year, returning four-year school and returning two-year school students. An additional student was chosen for an honorary mention and will receive $500. All four will have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. in October for HRC�s National Dinner.

First-Year Student

Ernesto Dominguez - Ernesto Dominguez will begin his first year of school at Portland Community College (OR) where he will study Political Science/Communications with a possible minor in Chicano/Women�s Studies. He is a dedicated volunteer both locally and nationally: founder and President of his high school gay-straight alliance, youth leader at Portland�s Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center, New Roots Fellow at Basic Rights Oregon, member of The Trevor Project�s Youth Advisory Council, and leadership board member of the National Latino AIDS Action Network. In 2010, Ernesto took part in major national events, presenting at the National Conference of La Raza�s annual conference and leading a workshop at the Task Force�s Creating Change conference. Ernesto helped develop the nation�s first Bill of Rights written by and for young people, which was adopted by the governments of Portland and Multnomah County, OR. He is a youth blogger at and

Ernesto plans on using his education in political science and public health, as well as his personal experience of homelessness, to support and empower at-risk youth.

�I believe that there is no greater thing I could ever do with my life than to help remove the additional obstacles LGBTQ youth face,� said Dominguez. �As a bi-lingual queer youth of color, I plan to seek further opportunities to share my story and create a space for other youth to share their own voices.�

Returning Four-Year School Student

Kevin Hatcher - Kevin Hatcher is entering his fourth year at Emory University (GA) where he is studying French with a minor in Linguistics. Kevin has a history of activism in his native Detroit, and more recently on campus and in the greater-Atlanta area. Kevin�s participation in AmeriCorps� City year program, working with 40 young adults to improve the infrastructure of metro Detroit, earned him the City Year Detroit Corp Member of the Year award in 2006. On campus, he serves on the advisory committee for Emory�s Center for LGBT Life and was named to Emory University�s President�s Commission on Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Queer Equality. Kevin is a member of the Georgia Gay & Bisexual Men�s Task Force for HIV Prevention and Planning and works with Aid Atlanta�s African-American Gay Men�s outreach program (The Deeper Love Project) to empower black gay men to make optimal sexual health choices.

Kevin�s personal experiences inspire him to work to create safe spaces where queer people of color don�t have to choose between their sexuality and culture. One of his long-term goals is to build a leadership institute for young black gay men.

�I know from my own experience that even in Atlanta, which is commonly referred to as the �black gay Mecca,� there are few affirming spaces for black gay men to come together for fellowship, learning, support and resources.�

Returning Two-Year School Student

Paul Saltz - Paul Saltz is in his second year at Columbus State Community College (OH) where he is pursuing a double major in philosophy and sociology with a concentration in human sexuality. Paul has been active from the moment he stepped foot on campus. He helped found Cougar Pride, the Gay-Straight Alliance at CSCC, and currently serves as its secretary. This spring, he coordinated Columbus State�s first Day of Silence event, including creating a display of pictures and bios of some members of the LGBT community who had been murdered in hate crimes. Paul also helped coordinate Columbus State�s first appearance in the Columbus Pride Parade. Also active in Columbus, he volunteers with Stonewall Columbus and is a feature columnist for Outlook Columbus, a monthly LGBTQ news magazine in central Ohio.

Paul plans to eventually get his PhD in either Applied Ethics or Sociology and will make LGBT advocacy a primary part of his work. Through his classroom experiences, he hopes to bring LGBTQ issues and concerns to the consciousness of the generations that follow. Paul believes that changing hearts and minds is the key to LGBT equality.

�We must begin with the sharing of our stories with those in closest proximity to us. By doing so, we begin to weave a web of truth and equality across our communities.�

Honorary Mention

Charles Girard - Charles Girard is entering his third year at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he majors in American Studies with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality. Charles has been extremely active on his campus and in Virginia. Since 2008, he has held various roles on the executive committee of UMW�s PRISM (People Representing Individuals of Sexual Minorities), including secretary and webmaster. He is a co-founder and current president of the Gender-Neutral Housing Project, formed in 2008 to establish a gender-neutral housing policy on campus, and was selected for a presidential focus group to discuss UMW�s diversity strategic plan. Charles was also chosen by Equality Virginia to serve on the Generation Equality board, their LGBT youth outreach program, and to speak at EV�s statewide conference about UMW�s gender-neutral housing initiative.

During the remainder of his time at UMW, Charles plans on working with PRISM to get gender identity and expression added to the school�s non-discrimination policy. He feels strongly about challenging students to transfer their digital action - such as on Facebook - into the physical world. Once out of school, Charles plans to continue the work he has started at UMW.

�The united queer movement begins with education about transgender people. I want to work with transgender youth and use the tools that I learned in college to continue to make a difference in the lives of my trans brothers and sisters.�

For more information about the winners and the Generation Equality Scholarships, visit:

The Human Rights Campaign is America�s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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