At the same time the rally against LGBT hate crimes was taking place downtown in Greenwich Village on Monday night, a little further uptown GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, held its 10th annual Respect Awards at Gotham Hall. The Respect Awards honor those who have made a significant difference in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models. NBA player, Jason Collins, making his first appearance since publicly coming out, arrived with NBA Commissioner David Stern, who presented Mr. Collins with the GLSEN Courage Award.
“We are incredibly proud to honor Jason Collins with our Courage Award,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “His decision to come out is a game-changer for sports and will have a profound impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, particularly those who participate in or want to participate in athletics. Joining the ranks of trailblazers like Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Wade Davis and Brittney Griner, we have witnessed another obstacle overcome in sports.”
Many young LGBT high school students were also in attendance and spoke about the positive impact GLSEN has had on their lives. One young man came to the podium with his mother to disclose how just a few years earlier, he had been sexually assaulted by two men who repeatedly called him a “faggot”. His mother thanked GLSEN for helping her son to triumph over this negative experience and become a respectful and confident young man, working to help other young people who are bullied and attacked.
Other award winners included journalist, LZ Granderson, bestowed GLSEN’s Hero Award; and GLSEN Educator of the Year, Mathew Beck. Fellow school teacher and GLSEN’s National Advisory Council member, Joy Lenters beamed when talking about GLSEN’s many committed educators and student Ambassadors and their impactful work to keep young people safe in schools stating “We’re all God’s children and need to be respected and protected.”
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students and seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community.
–Deb Gordon/Fresh 102.7
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