This past fall, Emily Scheck‘s parents found out she was in a same-sex relationship. They saw a picture of Emily and her girlfriend on Facebook, then told their daughter, who was running on the cross country team at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, that she needed to return home and undergo conversion therapy… or else they would cut her out of their lives forever.
She said no. But that also meant she had no money to pay for college. Her participation on the cross country team only covered a portion of her tuition. She visited home shortly after getting that text message from her parents, and it was as bad as she feared:
… her car’s license plates had been removed, and her car was full of her childhood belongings from home — awards, plaques, stuffed animals. She had bought her own car, but because her parents were paying for the insurance they had rescinded the payments, her father had driven to Buffalo from their home near Rochester, N.Y., and taken the license plates. He had also removed all of her belongings from their home and stuffed them in her car.
With that came a message that she was never to speak to them or her siblings again.
Suddenly Scheck was left alone, without a family and without support. She had $20 to her name and was getting paid by her jobs every two weeks — she works both at the local Wegmans and has a work-study job on campus, just to stay alive.
While the school tried to help her out, it was going to take a lot of money to make up for everything she needed and they weren’t sure they could do it. But then her roommate began a GoFundMe page on her behalf and the support was overwhelming. That seems like great news… except it came with a hitch.
The NCAA doesn’t allow student athletes to receive financial contributions. While this is most notable in football and basketball, where famous college athletes can barely cover their own meals while the school gets rich off of their names, it applies to everybody.
That left Emily with a choice: Keep the money and lose eligibility, or refuse to take it and struggle to survive. The school certainly didn’t want to be connected with that disturbing choice but they didn’t have much power to change the situation.
Thankfully, the NCAA relented and gave Emily a rare exemption to the rules. Because she had gone through a “significant life event,” they’re allowing her to keep the money and stay on the team.
Emily Scheck can retain her eligibility and continue to receive GoFundMe donations that assist her with living and educational expenses. pic.twitter.com/jut5EjPLnU— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) November 16, 2018
Official statement on Emily Scheck eligibility and crowdfunding. pic.twitter.com/nQP3gLAKBg
— GoGriffs (@GoGriffs) November 16, 2018
It’s a happy ending! The school wins, the NCAA looks good, Emily can stay at school and take classes and continue running. Everything appears to be working out… except for her relationship with her parents.
Scheck’s father, Timothy, told The Buffalo News that there is much more to the story than his daughter is sharing. The family asked her to participate in counseling sessions, but he said that did not mean conversion therapy. The family accepts her sexual orientation, he said.
Scheck disputes her father’s account.
Her father said the family wants her to come home so they can work together to heal.
“It’s a private family matter,” he said. “We love our daughter. We accept Emily.”
In response to the harsh messages Scheck recounted, her father said they were written out of initial anger and hurt, and the family has apologized for those words and continues to reach out. Their comments about disowning their daughter were simply meant to pressure her to return home.
None of the articles go into much detail about the family’s religion, but is there any doubt that this is fueled by religious bigotry? And what exactly is the purpose of “counseling” if not for her parents to argue that there’s something wrong with being gay?
It takes a lot to make the NCAA look good. But a sensible response to faith-based homophobia will do it. Here’s hoping Emily can use the money to move forward with her life, pursue happiness wherever she finds it, and not have to rely on her parents for support. She’s better off without them and their religion if this is how they’re treating her.
Much like their God, their love for Emily is conditional. She shouldn’t have to “change” who she is in order to stay in their good graces. At least her friends and school community knows that. Too bad her parents haven’t figured it out.
(via Outsports. Thanks to Brian for the link)