20 years on, remembering Matthew Shepard

Penn Today
October 11, 2018

Friday, Oct. 12, marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old LGBT student at the University of Wyoming who was badly beaten and left to die in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyo.

The incident drew an unprecedented amount of media attention to the murder of a gay youth, and would eventually result in the 2009 passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, cementing sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability as protected groups under 1969 U.S. federal hate-crimes law. That, in addition to the 30 states that now have laws covering sexual orientation under hate-crimes law—all, in part, thanks to the advocacy of Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, who has made anti-hate activism her life’s work following her son’s murder.

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