2/21/2005

Maya Keyes: Abandoned but not alone

From Tom Oliphant of the Boston Globe:
Forget Alan Keyes -- the right-wing tub-thumper, the talk-show noisemaker, the Republican pol, the conservative ''Christian," the dad who abandoned his teenager because she happens to be gay.
The person to care about and take an interest in is Maya Keyes -- the daughter, the young woman who got into Brown University, the kid who spent time teaching in India. Sadly, she is anything but a unique case of a budding scholar instantly impoverished by vindictive parents on the threshold of life.
On the brighter side, it turns out she is not alone, but in the embrace of an organization that was set up a few years ago to help in heart-breaking situations like hers. Thanks to The Point Foundation, she will make it to Brown after all. She will not only have financial aid, she will have at least one adult mentor to confide in as her undergraduate life unfolds. She will have to work hard to keep her aid, too. She must maintain the equivalent of a 3.5 grade-point average and design a community service program for her ''spare" time. Where higher education is concerned, that is as it should be. It's supposed to be hard, just not impossible because of cruel parents.
So will it go for 40 other young people honored a year ago with Point Foundation assistance. The foundation was established by a group of people who as students 30 years ago had also faced parental abandonment because they happened to be gay. They persevered, made it, and then made it big, resolving that they would use some of their wealth to provide the help they lacked. That what happened is still happening is a reminder that the fundamental sources of bigotry remain strong.
The intense pain and anguish of these rejected kids is one reason the Point people are so determined to go beyond merely providing financial assistance. If needed, they provide an adult to be there on the first day of college, so that one of the more joyous rites of passage (the unloading of the car at the dormitory) doesn't take place in solitude. In the summer, there are retreats to expose students to career opportunities and to successful adults.
The idea is to combat the forces of marginalization that face young people trying to cope with sexual and gender identity. The societal forces are ugly enough; it is unspeakable that they would include so many parents.
The good news in the Keyes story is that the real grown-up in the family is going to have her chance. The tougher news is that only 40 such young people can currently be assisted. The foundation (www.thepointfoundation.org) has an active board, as well as an anonymous angel who underwrites its administrative and fund-raising costs. Every buck donated goes directly to help a young person.
The idea is not to undermine parents; it is to keep parents from undermining their kids' future.

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