A New York college student was disowned by her parents because she was a lesbian — and then the NCAA banned her from running cross country after she raised money online to help pay for food and books.
Emily Scheck’s parents cut off ties with her by text message in August, after finding photos of her on social media with the woman she is dating, and a roommate launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier this month to help make up for some of the family support she lost, reported the Washington Post.
The 19-year-old Canisius College student had not told her family she was a lesbian because she worried they wouldn’t accept her — and her fears turned out to be true.
Her mother sent her a series of texts giving Scheck an ultimatum: Leave college, give up her partial scholarship and return home to upstate New York to undergo conversion therapy — or be cut out of her family’s life.
Scheck told her parents she would stay at Canisius and would not participate in religious therapy, and her father drove 85 miles to dump her belongings — even her birth certificate — in her car.
Her parents had already removed her from their car insurance coverage, and her father took her vehicle’s license plates.
“Well, I am done with you,” her mother texted. “As of right now, declare yourself independent. You are on your own. Please don’t contact us or your siblings.”
Scheck asked why her mother was disowning her.
“Because you disgust me,” she replied, according to Scheck.
A roommate set up an online fundraiser, which has raised more than $58,000 — well above the initial $5,000 goal.
But that ran afoul of NCAA rules prohibiting outside financial aid for student-athletes, and she was again faced with a difficult decision: Give back the donations, or keep the money and lose her eligibility.
Scheck felt like keeping the money was her only option, and social media users pressured the NCAA to let her keep her eligibility.
The NCAA announced Friday that it had granted a rare reversal and would allow Scheck to continue participating in college athletics — and receiving money for living and educational expenses.
“Canisius and the NCAA will continue to work together in support of Emily,” the university said in a statement. “She is a member of the Canisius family and we will do whatever we can to assist her.”
Scheck’s father said there was more to the story than his daughter had shared, and he insisted the family accepts her and had only threatened to disavow her to pressure her to return home.
“It’s a private family matter,” Timothy Scheck said. “We love our daughter. We accept Emily.”
Scheck said she had been communicating with her parents, who she said had been seeing a counselor who specialized in LGBT issues — and she was willing to pursue closer ties.
“I’ve got to give them something if they’re going to therapy and working on themselves,” she said. “I hope to someday have a relationship again, whatever that means.”