Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people) is pleased to announce that Wayland High School senior Abigail McCarthy was awarded the 2017 Elsie Frank Scholarship Award at Pride & Passion 2017, the organization’s annual benefit and auction held April 27 in Boston. The scholarship is awarded annually to high school students who have demonstrated leadership in improving their school climate for LGBTQ youth and their allies.
McCarthy led a successful campaign by students to create a gender-neutral bathroom at Wayland High School to ensure the safety of transgender and gender non-conforming students. McCarthy did outreach to teachers and administrators to explain how the facility would create a safer atmosphere at the school, educated classmates, and when a group of parents voiced opposition to the proposal, McCarthy penned an op-ed for the school newspaper reiterating the case for the transgender-friendly restroom.
“I recognized my privilege to use the bathroom in safety and I knew it was my responsibility to help others who lacked that privilege,” McCarthy wrote in a scholarship application essay.
McCarthy has been accepted to several colleges and intends to double major in English and Environmental Analysis. McCarthy would eventually like to work as an editor or publisher.
“We were pleased to honor Abby for working to create a safer environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students at Wayland High,” said Val Frias, Greater Boston PFLAG Executive Director. “Students learn best when they are acknowledged and accepted for who they are, and when they can safely access all school facilities in the same manner as their peers. We commend Abby for making LGBTQ inclusion and acceptance a priority at school, and we’re inspired by Abby’s leadership.”
Greater Boston PFLAG’s Elsie Frank Scholarship is named in honor of the late mother of former Massachusetts congressman and openly gay man Barney Frank. Mrs. Frank, who died in 2005, was a member of Greater Boston PFLAG’s Honorary Board and a lifelong advocate for the rights of marginalized people. The organization began awarding scholarships in 1998 and renamed them for Mrs. Frank in 2007. Greater Boston PFLAG annually awards a total of $15,000 to Massachusetts high school seniors for their education.
McCarthy was honored with three other Elsie Frank Scholarship recipients at the 15th annual Pride & Passion, which drew more than 1,000 attendees to the Boston Marriott Copley Place. At the event, Greater Boston PFLAG also honored Josh Kraft, Nicholas President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, with its Cornerstone of Equality Award.