Ten gay Iowa high school seniors, including the student who had his graduation disrupted by anti-gay protestors, were honored this morning at a breakfast in Des Moines. Five of the students won scholarships sponsored by a foundation established in the name of Matthew Shephard, a gay college student from Wyoming who was murdered. Eighteen-year-old Julius Carter, a graduate of Des Moines Lincoln High School, won a scholarship that pays for his tuition, books and fees at the University of Iowa for the next four years. Carter says he’s learned a lot about values and support as a result of the controversy that surrounded the anti-gay protest at his graduation. Carter says he was shocked when he got the news that he’d won the full scholarship. Carter says his parents were fairly excited, but a bit “weirded out” about the scholarship. Carter’s father is a pastor in a church which considers homosexuality a sin, and he says his parents “show love and support to the best of their ability” even though they do not believe their son should be gay and they did not attend today’s honor breakfast because Carter says they wouldn’t have felt comfortable. Eighteen-year-old Andrew Slade, a grad of Dubuque Hempstead, also received a scholarship that’ll cover tuition, books and fees for four years, and his parents attended today’s event. Slade says he was shocked when he got the phone call telling him he’d won the scholarship. Slade says he couldn’t breathe and it took a while to take it all in, then he started screaming because he was so happy. The other five students honored today got scholarships from an Iowa-based gay group called the First Friday Breakfast Club.
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