For gay wrestler at Don Bosco, it's about connecting communities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

For gay wrestler at Don Bosco, it's about connecting communities

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Once you get past the dull roar of weight lifters, and follow Cole Fox into the wrestling room at Don Bosco high school, you'll find those iconic mats -- mats where he's most at home.

"Oh I live here," the senior said.

Fox has been long-honored for his wrestling success.

"He's a great kid," said coach Tom Hogan.

Now, he's now making headlines for another reason. Fox, who is gay, came out to his father by putting a letter in his coat. The story was featured on OutSports.com this week.

He said once he shared his story, others shared theirs.

"People everywhere in Iowa," he said. "They're just like, 'Hey you're great,' and that makes me feel like this is all going to be worth it."

Fox has also been honored with the Matthew Shepherd scholarship, awarded by the Des Moines based Eyachaner Foundation to gay students who demonstrate academic aptitude and community leadership. He plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa in the fall.

But as it stands, in a catholic school, being openly gay puts Fox at odds with the church's official stance on homosexualty. Recently, a teacher at West Des Moines' Dowling Catholic was denied employment because he is engaged to man, creating some controversy. To Fox, that's troubling.

"I wish they could have a change of heart," Fox said. "It's disappointing."

On the other hand, he said at Bosco, he's been accepted as he is.

"I was scared that there was going to be some negative feedback, but I haven't heard one negative comment," he said.

What is up in air -- if Bosco or the Arch Diocese will allow him to accept the Shepherd award at graduation. In 2005, another Bosco student that won it was not allowed to be presented the award by a speaker.

KWWL reached out to the Arch Diocese for comment on gay teachers in catholic schools.

"We first want to make sure that everyone knows they are loved and welcome in the Catholic Church," said John Robbins, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Dubuque Pastoral Center. "Our educators are responsible for both teaching a particular subject and being a witness to the Gospel. They sign a contract agreeing to live as such in accordance with the teachings of the Church. If an educator is known to make lifestyle choices that are at odds with Church teaching, their employment may be terminated per the contractual terms to which they have agreed. Those who are gay can choose to live a chaste life in accordance with Church teaching."

As for gay students --

"We lovingly accept all students," Robbins wrote. "Every person's dignity is rooted in their creation in the image and likeness of God."

Robbins could not comment at this time if the award would be presented at graduation. The Don Bosco principal could not be reached for comment.

Fox is just glad to have the acceptance of his teammates.

"It's a team," said teammate Skyler Woods, another senior. "I think we all care about him and treat him the same way. It's important."

Fox said that's one of the reasons he loves the Bosco community.

"I wear my heart on my sleeve," he said. "This is Don Bosco. I love this place, so the support I'm recieving from the community just makes me want to support it even more."

Now, he's hoping to be a bridge between all his groups -- wrestlers, catholics, and the gay community. But he's not worried.

As the Dan Gable quote on the wall of the Bosco wrestling room reads -- "Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easy."

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