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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Hate Crime Activist Judy Shepard Speaks at SU October 11

SALISBURY, MD---On October 8, 1998, Judy Shepard became a national figure. That night, Shepard and her husband were awakened by a phone call telling them that their son Matthew had been cruelly beaten and left in a coma because of his sexual orientation. Four days later he died, and the Shepards’ ordeal produced a national outcry. There, amid the rallies and vigils, the Shepards resolved to prevent their son’s fate from happening to others. Judy Shepard, the more public of the husband-and-wife team, now channels her grief into making a difference. This year, to commemorate National Coming Out Day, she speaks about her ordeal and her fight against hate crimes 7 p.m. Monday, October 11, in Holloway Hall Auditorium at Salisbury University. Following her son’s brutal death, Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation (www.matthewshepard.org) and has become a staunch advocate for the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. She takes an active role with the organization Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and has appeared in many public service announcements on its behalf. As a vehement opponent to hate crimes and acts of intolerance, she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 1999. In addition to her advocacy of the organizations her son supported in his life, Shepard now speaks to audiences across the nation to raise awareness and help promote tolerance. Her ultimate goal is to make the world a more accepting place for all people regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Sponsored by BT GLASS, her lecture at SU is free and open to the public. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site www.salisbury.edu.

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