GLSEN Respect Awards Honor and Bring Together Youth and Education Activists

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The annual GLSEN Respect Awards – New York gala supports the national education organization’s work and brought celebrities, activists and community leaders to Gotham Hall on Monday, May 24th.

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Our Respect Awards honorees represent the best of our collective efforts to make our schools better, our children safer, and ultimately happier.

This week, hundreds of youth and education activists in the straight and LGBT community celebrated leaders who work to promote safe schools for all students. The annual event, the GLSEN Respect Awards – New York gala, supports the national education organization’s work and brought celebrities, activists and community leaders to Gotham Hall on Monday, May 24th. Honorees of the event include musician, philanthropist and founder of the ‘We Give a Damn Campaign’, Cyndi Lauper; philanthropists, longtime GLSEN supporters, David Dechman Michel Mercure; Student Advocate of the Year, Danielle Smith of Topsham, Maine; and corporate honorees American Express and Pfizer.

“As GLSEN celebrates 20 years of working to ensure safe schools for all students, we are continually amazed by and grateful for the courageous student, education and philanthropic leaders who support our mission,” said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. “Our Respect Awards honorees represent the best of our collective efforts to make our schools better, our children safer, and ultimately happier.”

Among the high-profile guests in attendance at Monday’s event were prolific photographer Annie Liebovitz; musician Chely Wright; openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson; 10-year-old LGBT activist, Will Phillips who refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance; LGBT youth activist, Constance McMillen who was denied the right to bring her girlfriend to prom; Broadway actress Katie Finneran; actor and winner of ‘The Amazing Race’, Reichen Lehmkuhl; playwright and founder of the Tectonic Theatre Project, Moises Kaufman; GLSEN Board Member and a mother whose bullied child died by suicide, Sirdeaner Walker; former GLSEN Student Advocate of the Year, Austin Laufersweiler; and GLSEN Educator of the Year, Mary Jane Karger. The event also featured performances by the Youth Pride Chorus.

Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth experience harassment in school each year, according to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey. In addition, 60% of LGBT youth feel unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation and nearly 1 in 3 miss school each month because of feeling unsafe.

About GLSEN
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit http://www.glsen.org

Photo Credits to David J. Martin

Photos of the Red Carpet: http://bit.ly/GLSENredcarpet

Photos of the Event: http://bit.ly/GLSENevent1 and http://bit.ly/GLSENevent2

Broadcast-ready video is available upon request by contacting GLSEN.

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