Local activist receives award for work in LGBT community

One of Atlanta’s most active LGBT awareness activists was recently recognized as one of 30 scholars by the Point Foundation.

Scott McKee, a Chemical Engineering major at Georgia Tech, was designated as one of 30 Point Foundation Scholars, an impressive accolade given to students with both high academic standards and significant involvement as an activist in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – commonly known as LGBT – community.

McKee, who was born and raised in Houston, Texas, came out to his family during his sophomore year in high school. Although he believes his connection with his family now is stronger than ever, their initial reactions were not as supportive.

“I think, in the end, it’s been a very positive experience. There’s been a lot of growth,” McKee said. “But it was definitely very turbulent for a few years after coming out. They had a lot of concerns about it, and I took those concerns to be very personal sort of attacks, almost. But we’ve been able to grow a lot, and I feel that our relationship is even stronger because we’ve gone through that.”

Due in large part to the initial reactions of his family, McKee felt an intense desire to help others who might undergo similar situations from coming out as a homosexual.

“From my coming out process, I felt isolation and grief. I’ve been in a position where I don’t want others to be, and I don’t want them to have to go through what I’ve gone through, so a lot of my work is to make it easier for them to come out, to provide any support I can to make their lives easier, and to stand up for those who aren’t able to come out yet,” he explained.

“My active sexual orientation as a homosexual has changed very little of my life, but my path to personal acceptance of my homosexuality and my struggles with family, friends, and the community have altered me in an irrevocable way,” noted McKee.

Currently, McKee is heavily involved in LGBT-based activities at Georgia Tech. He is the president of Pride Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing a social and awareness outlet for LGBT students.

With Pride Alliance, McKee will present Georgia Tech Coming Out Week, which begins Oct. 4. McKee also is able to meet with chief faculty members and discuss current situations in the LGBT community at Georgia Tech.

McKee also serves as a student coordinator for Safe Space, a program designed to create a more hospitable environment for LGBT students on campus. He feels that the students who have gone through the training for the program have helped make the campus of Georgia Tech more inviting for LGBT students to talk about issues.

More recently, McKee founded Out Rights, a politically-motivated organization intended to secure rights for the LGBT community. On creating a political organization, McKee stated, “I felt that we needed the ability to express all aspects of the LGBT struggle for social justice and equality, and I think a lot of those aspects – the political system has effects on social justice and equality, so in order to achieve that, we sort of have to go through political means and have the ability to be political.”

Currently, McKee is lobbying Georgia Tech to conduct a Climate Survey to gauge opinions on LGBT issues. McKee feels that the current climate of the Georgia Tech campus to the LGBT community is externally accepting, but only as long as students don’t demonstrate affections or flaunt sexuality in public.

“Generally, people are accepting of it in a very sort of non-personal way. They’re fine with it as long as it’s not in their face, as long as it’s not around them or affecting them. But, I think, whenever it gets personal or they have a personal relation somehow to it, people become a lot more uncomfortable with it.”

Additionally, McKee is pushing for Georgia Tech to add domestic partner benefits for students, since graduate students who transfer to Georgia Tech are currently not afforded the same benefits for their partners as students who are married to someone.

McKee also wants to see the campus discrimination policy rewritten to be more inclusive to gender identity and expression. While he sees inequalities in the current system and recognizes that simply changing the policy will not necessarily bring about a radical change in recognition of gender-based rights, his goal is focused on preventing future problems in any manner possible.

Outside of the Georgia Tech community, McKee has worked to raise money for Chris Kids’ Rainbow House, a local program that provides housing for homeless LGBT youth. He has also worked with AID Atlanta.

McKee offered this message for the students at Georgia State: “Try to accept everyone for who they are. Avoid looking at the differences – try to find common ground and try to get to know people for who they really are instead of just rejecting them.”

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