This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utahns Bill and Sherri Park, parents of three and grandparents of six, say they didn't know of any gay friends or family members before 2010.
That's when they first became aware of the wrenching suicides of gay Mormons, sometimes rejected by their LDS families and friends.
After that, the Parks marched in their first Gay Pride Parade, joined the movement known as Mormons Building Bridges and helped organize "Sit With Me Sunday" events in which participants offer to accompany gay Latter-day Saints who want to attend Mormon services but feel alone.
Still, the couple wanted to do even more.
So, in 2013, they in partnership with the Community Foundation of Utah created Sit With Me Sunday Scholarships to cover college tuition for young adults who have been baptized into the LDS faith and who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
To qualify for a $1,000 scholarship, Mormon applicants must be Utah residents, be graduating from or have graduated from a Utah high school with a GPA of 3.0 or above, be admitted or attending a community college in the state, and demonstrate financial need.
The fund awarded its first scholarships in 2013 to recipients Peter Harrison and Russell Baughman, both of whom used the money for tuition at Salt Lake Community College.
The Parks are looking for 2015 candidates to apply online by Feb. 28 at the Community Foundation's website.
"We want to help make a difference in the lives of young people," the couple write on their website. "We plan to continue the scholarships for many years to come."
Peggy Fletcher Stack