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Wednesday, September 29, 2004
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Collaboration creates important dialogue for understanding, tolerance

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 29, 2004) -- Several departments and student groups have collaborated to create a campus-wide dialogue for tolerance and understanding during the university's OUTweek, Oct. 4 to Oct. 12. At the forefront are two events related to the 1998 murder of hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard.

Judy ShepardSix years to the day after Matthew Shepard was lured outside a Laramie, Wyo., bar and savagely attacked for being gay, Judy Shepard, his mother, will share her son's values of respect and dignity for others through her talk at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Using a combination of video clips, court statements and discussion on hate language and hate crimes, Judy Shepard explains how hateful behavior is a learned behavior.

As Judy and Dennis Shepard mourned in private after their son's death, they started the Matthew Shepard Foundation (www.matthewshepard.org) to carry on their son's legacy and use their grief to make a difference. To foster acceptance, prevent hate crimes and advocate for gay and lesbian equality, Judy Shepard has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, appeared in television public service announcements aimed at curbing anti-gay violence and given public lectures in many cities across the nation. She is determined to do what she can to ensure that no other parent will have to endure what she has.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Programs Center, the School of Theater, University Program Council, Residence Life, Performing Art Series, College of Fine Arts, Office of the Dean of Students, Open Mind Speaker Forum and the departments of women's studies and political science.

In addition to a talk presented by Judy Shepard, the School of Theater will present "The Laramie Project," a play written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, a group of 10 New Yorkers who set out for Laramie, Wyo., to explore the town four weeks after Matthew Shepard's murder. After nearly two years of research and 200 interviews, the theater company created a moving play that transcends the small college town of Laramie, and delves into the substance of hate and a culture trying to sort out its intolerance, bigotry and homophobia.

"I'm thrilled to be doing 'The Laramie Project,'" said Director Shelley Delaney. "But I also feel a huge sense of responsibility. It's history ? recent history ? and I feel a need to be fair and responsible about it."

Delaney, who was recently nominated for a 2004 Joseph Jefferson award for her performance in "Free Man of Color," is a School of Theater faculty member.

"The Laramie Project" will run Oct. 13-16, Oct. 20-23 and Oct. 27-30 in the Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater located in Kantner Hall.

Regular admission for the production is $12 and $10 for students and seniors. For ticket information and reservations, call (740) 593-4800 or go to the Fine Arts Ticket Office in Kantner Hall 103, Monday through Friday, from noon to 5 p.m.

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