Parsons Courtesy of family of Betsy Parsons

PORTLAND & ELLSWORTH — A new scholarship at the Maine Community Foundation will support LGBTQ+ youth and allies in pursuit of post-secondary studies. The Parsons Scholarship Fund for LGBTQ+ Youth and Allies honors the late Betsy Parsons, a longtime Portland teacher and a fierce advocate of LGBTQ+ rights.

Parsons taught English for 30 years and was one of the earliest teachers in Maine to publicly identify as a lesbian. She helped found the Southern Maine Chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), which fights to ensure safe schools and spaces for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. She led the way in establishing approximately 90 student gender and sexuality clubs statewide, recruited student leaders and advisors, and provided continued support. 

Parsons received several awards for her teaching and LGBTQ+ advocacy. In 2019, she was recognized with a legislative sentiment by the state Legislature for her leadership in making schools safe for students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We’re honored that Betsy’s family trusted MaineCF with this scholarship honoring their sister and daughter,” said Liz Fickett, director of grants and scholarships. “We are excited to add our first scholarship for LGBTQ+ youth to our offerings and look forward to this first season of applicants and awards.” 

The Parsons Scholarship Fund for LGBTQ+ Youth and Allies provides support for LGBTQ+ graduating seniors and their allies (also graduating seniors) at Maine high schools in their pursuit of post-secondary study. This scholarship is inspired by Parsons’s life and work and has been created by her family, who staunchly support her ideals and share her deep love for and commitment to Maine and its people. Maine graduating high-school seniors of any gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic background are encouraged to apply.

To learn more about the scholarship, visit or contact Liz Fickett, MaineCF director of grants and scholarships, at

Headquartered in Ellsworth, with additional personnel in Portland, Dover-Foxcroft, Rockport, and Mars Hill, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to provide strong investments, personalized service, local expertise, and strategic giving to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. To learn more about the foundation, visit