Athlete who was disowned by her family for being gay receives $50,000 in crowdfunding donations
Despite the leaps and bounds made by and for the LGBTQ community over the past few years, queer people still find themselves being discriminated against every single day. From verbal harassment to physical abuse to full-on ostracisation, individuals who are seen as "other" by the cisgender, heterosexual majority are put through unnecessary suffering - often by their own family members.
Emily Scheck, a collegiate athlete, was recently disowned by her family after her mother found a picture of her with her girlfriend.
According to Scheck, her mother told her that being gay was "disgusting", and offered her an ultimatum: move home from college and attend conversion therapy, or stay away and never come back.
She didn't respond to the message but, when she next returned home, she was met with a terrible sight.
In her absence, Scheck's mother had filled her car with all her childhood belongings. Her parents had also removed the car's number plates and cut off all the payments they were making for her insurance. It was a clear sign that she did not belong there anymore.
With barely any money to her name, and two jobs that only just about covered her basic food and rent costs, Scheck was stuck. What's more, her parents also charged a load of purchases from a recent vacation to her card, meaning that she had more outgoing costs than she could handle.
In an act of desperation, the 19-year-old set up a GoFundMe with a target of $5000 - just enough money to see her through the year.
Amazingly, the cause raised more than 10 times its intended goal... but there was a problem.
As Scheck was part of the cross country running team for her university, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), said that the teenager had to choose between her Canisius College running squad and tuition money. According to their rules, a student cannot receive goods or services on the basis of their membership on a team.
A statement sent to Outsports by Canisius College spokesperson Matt Reitnour said:
"After a review by the College’s compliance staff, and following consultation with the NCAA, it was determined that the online crowdfunding webpage was organized and promoted in a manner not permitted under NCAA legislation. Canisius informed the student-athletes that it would be necessary to end the online fundraising effort and work with the website host to return the donations received in order to preserve the student-athlete’s eligibility."
Without the money, Scheck could not pay for her tuition for the next year. But she needed her team to progress in her athletics career.
Friends and fellow students rallied around Scheck, and set up a Change.org petition calling for the NCAA to make an exception and allow the teenager to accept donations.
Thankfully, they eventually reversed their decision.
"Canisius and the NCAA will continue to work together in support of Emily," a later statement said. "She is a member of the Canisius family and we will do whatever we can to assist her."
In the meantime, Scheck's parents have denied threatening their daughter with conversion therapy, and claim that they only wanted her to attend "counselling". Messages sent by Scheck's mother demonstrate how aggressively they acted towards her, however, and prove that the young athlete was ousted for her sexuality.
Thanks to the support of her community, though, she is now able to continue her studies and her athletic pursuits.