Five New York City high school seniors who are active in their communities are the recipients of the first Yankees-Stonewall scholarships of $10,000 each.
The team’s front office, Major League Baseball’s Billy Bean and New York City’s first lady gathered at The Stonewall Inn Wednesday to present the awards to the students who represent each of the city’s five boroughs. One student identifies as transgender, and another as queer, but because they are not out, they wore a mask to the ceremony.
“[Wednesday] was a great day,” said Bean, who came out in 1999 and is a vice president for MLB and special assistant to the commissioner. “The Yankees changed five lives. Those kids are going to be acknowledged on the field with the scholarships” at a pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, June 25.
According to the Yankees, the initiative was created to commemorate” the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Uprising and celebrates the achievements of New York City Public School graduating seniors who have demonstrated academic achievement, a commitment to equality and impactful support for the LGBTQ community.”
The winners for 2019 are Alex Rosado from Manhattan, Francheska Colón from the Bronx, Ashley Farrell from Staten Island, Hugh Goldstein from Queens and a student from Brooklyn who wishes to remain anonymous because they are not out.
NBC News reported that all of the students are community leaders, and that most of them lead the Gay-Straight Alliance group at their high schools.
Rosado is transgender and started the GSA at The Clinton School in Chelsea as a freshman. NBC reported he writes about LGBTQ issues for the school’s newspaper and will be attending Sarah Lawrence College in the fall. Rosado’s goal is to write and publish his first novel by the time he graduates.
“Even with all the scholarships that I got from the college and the need-based aid, I was still short 10 grand for each year,” Rosado told NBC News. “I was really surprised that after all the work I did in high school, I didn’t even get enough scholarships to cover the basic cost of tuition, so because of this [Yankees-Stonewall] scholarship, I’m going to be able to go to this very expensive college.”
The recipient who asked to remain anonymous told NBC News that, like the other Yankees-Stonewall Scholars, the $10,000 award gives them the opportunity to follow their dreams.
“Looking at the qualifications for the scholarship, I was honored that I would even be nominated,” they told NBC News. “This scholarship is going to help me a lot, especially since I’m trying to move out, so to be able to have the resources to focus on the things I want to focus on with my activism and academics, it means the world to me.”
“I want the other teams and the other leagues to see the ways that we can empower an underserved community,” Bean told Outsports. “Our kids have had trouble, and I mean LGBT community kids, who haven’t had the same opportunity because they’ve been navigating conflict within their own family. No child should ever be faced with something like that. It’s awful. And you know they’re heroes and they they deserve a chance.”
The NYC Department of Education was in charge of the scholarship selection process. Public schools in all five boroughs were asked to nominate one graduating senior who excelled in academics and demonstrated “a commitment to equality and impactful support for the LGBTQ community.”
A panel of representatives from the city’s Department of Education and The Stonewall Inn reviewed approximately 200 applications on April 10, and chose 26 students as finalists. Those finalists were then interviewed and from that pool these five were chosen.
Also on hand at The Stonewall Inn were co-owner and Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative CEO Stacy Lentz, first lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, and New York City schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza, whose twin brother is gay.
“One year in my 20s, he asked me out to dinner and in a solemn voice, he said, ‘Richard, I’m gay.’ The person closest to me could not be his truest self,” Carranza recalled at the event. “All students should be free to be their truest self and see themselves reflected in the classroom materials.”
The Yankees pledged that the scholarships will be awarded on an annual basis and will provide the five students selected as scholars the resources to launch their educational and career goals.
Bean heaped praise on the Yankees management, including Yankees president Randy Levine, senior vice president and general manager Brian Cashman, senior vice president and assistant general manager Jean Afterman, senior vice president of corporate and community relations Brian Smith. “They have been the most engaged of all the teams when it comes to educating their players with me about LGBT issues,” he said. “But they did not put that out there for people to pat them on the back.”
“We at the Yankees are very conscious of our place in New York City. As part of NYC, we always try to recognize our responsibility to give back to the community,” Levine said at the event. “We noticed it was the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and we wanted to do something, not only to just celebrate, but to do something more meaningful by giving back and creating legacy so that this anniversary is remembered, that people learn from it and to create great leaders as a result of it.”