Brian Cook, 2013

Boston’s FLAG (Friends, Lesbians and Gays) Flag Football League was thrilled to award its first-ever $2,500 youth scholarship this spring to Brian Cook from Methuen (MA) High School. The scholarship was established to recognize and honor a student who has made high school and/or community sports programs safer for and more inclusive of LGBTQ student-athletes, as either a role model or ally. In line with the mission of our organization, students of all athletic skill levels, contributions, and achievement were encouraged to apply. Our mission is to foster and augment the self-respect of members of the LGBTQ community through the positive enjoyment of flag football and other community activities. Through education and the promotion of sport, we strive to refute traditional stereotypes against members of the LGBTQ community, increase diversity and tolerance within athletics, and engender respect and understanding within the larger community.

The over 300 men and women who play with us during the spring and fall are incredibly honored to present our first scholarship to Brian. A senior at Methuen High School, Brian has played football as an offensive lineman for the past three years. He has also been a member of his track team as a shot putter for all four years and played baseball for two seasons.  Brian’s journey has, as he readily admits, not always been easy. As a student who transitioned from FTM at the age of nine, he has faced his share of challenges along the way.  Many “experts” advised his parents to switch Brian’s school in order to make his transition easier. Brian, however, enjoyed his school, had a strong group of friends, and knew that he should not need to leave the people and community he knew and loved in order to be his authentic self. By his sophomore year, Brian knew that he wanted to play football. Though he didn’t know of any other openly FTM high school students who attempt to play such a male-dominated sport, Brian would not let that deter him. If he did not have any role models himself, he knew that he could become a role model to others to follow. When he’s not on the athletic fields, Brian speaks publicly with Dr. Norman Spack about transgender medical care and transgender rights, participates in the Acting Out Theater Company in Lawrence, and speaks regularly for Greater Boston PFLAG along with his mom.

Brian is not just a role model, he is a trailblazer and inspiration. We honor his courage, his leadership, his passion, his sportsmanship, and all of the attributes that led his athletic director to say that Brian “truly epitomizes what we all want in a high school student athlete.” Most importantly, we honor Brian for simply being himself.