The UGA School of Law is located on UGA's north campus. (Photo/Jason Born)

The University of Georgia School of Law has endowed an LGBT-focused scholarship.

The Stonewall Equality Scholarship Fund will benefit students who have demonstrated leadership in LGBT issues or plan to advance equality during their careers as lawyers, according to a news release from the Law School.

“This pledge to diversifying the legal profession and helping future lawyers and leaders advances our shared commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion and belonging in the legal profession,” said Law School Dean Peter “Bo” Rutledge in the release.

“The Stonewall Equality Scholarship will change lives,” said Charles Hicks, a third-year UGA Law student from Pembroke, in an email. “There are a number of UGA students who make the difficult decision to live closeted lives, because their domestic support system would cut them off financially if they were out. Scholarships like this one relieve LGBT students in particular of acute financial stress and allow them to live openly.”

Hicks was the president of UGA Law’s OUTLaw student organization last year and worked closely with other students, alumni, law school administration, and staff to get the scholarship funded. According to Hicks, multiple faculty and administrative members were instrumental in establishing the scholarship.

“President Jere Morehead has worked hard to improve the University’s diversity during his tenure, and Dr. Michelle Cook has been an eager champion of the school’s diversity efforts,” Hicks said.

Professor Joseph Miller, the first tenured-track LGBT faculty member at UGA Law, has been working on the campaign for the scholarship since 2015.

“I think it’s enormously important to support future lawyers who want to devote their professional energy to working to advance equality, including LGBT equality,” Miller said. “It helps bring about the kind of social change we’d like to see and it signals to people in the community that these are important things that we value.”

“I hope the Stonewall Equality Scholarship inspires both Pres. Morehead and Dr. Cook to focus the University’s efforts on endowing several new LGBT scholarships across the school’s undergraduate and professional communities,” Hicks said.

Miller hopes the creation of the scholarship will promote similar initiatives in other universities.

“I hope that UGA creating the scholarship and all of the very generous support that went into endowing it from all of the contributors will signal to other law schools that they should consider doing the same,” Miller said.

The number of recipients and amount of the scholarship have not yet been released. The first scholarship recipient will be named next year, according to the Law School.

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