GLSEN Honors Trans Advocate Janet Mock
On May 19 at New York City’s Gotham Hall, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, honored New York Times bestselling author Janet Mock, AT&T and the 2014 Educator of the Year and Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year at the 11th annual GLSEN Respect Awards.
"The past year has been one of remarkable advances for LGBT students that we hardly dared dream of even five years ago," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "Our honorees have all helped to drive progress in critical ways. Janet Mock is a visionary trailblazer who is inspiring LGBT youth to love their true selves, and challenging all of us to greet them with open arms. Her transformative presence on the national scene has catalyzed a new pace of change on transgender issues in this country."
Mock was presented with the Inspiration Award for her work as a writer, advocate and the New York Times bestselling author of "Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More." Since 2012, when she launched #GirlsLikeUs, a movement that encourages trans women to live visibly, she has led a revolution in public dialogue around the lives of transgender people, particularly women of color.
She was featured in the HBO documentary "The Out List" and has appeared on "The Colbert Report" and Melissa Harris-Perry. Her commentary has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, Feministing, NPR, The Atlantic and more. A native of Honolulu, Janet lives and writes in New York City.
Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon return as Honorary Co-Chairs for the event, joined by GLSEN Board member and country music star Chely Wright, as well as Cindy Armine, as event Co-Chairs.
The GLSEN Respect Awards, held annually in Los Angeles and New York, provide an opportunity to celebrate champions, tally victories and strengthen ourselves for the battles ahead. The Respect Awards showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who make a significant contribution to LGBT issues in K-12 education, diversity and inclusion, and who serve as exemplary role models.
AT&T was presented with the Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award. The company is a longtime GLSEN partner whose 138-year history of innovation is a story about people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds coming together to connect people to their world -- anywhere, anytime and on any device.
AT&T’s diverse culture welcomes all points of view and makes the company a great place to work, a desired business partner and a committed member of the communities it serves. From support of the LGBTQ community to helping teens stay in school to ending texting while driving, AT&T is steadfast in its efforts to benefit communities across the country.
AT&T was recently named #1 in DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for LGBT employees and #10 in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity. From its efforts as the first major corporation to oppose anti-gay policies at the Olympics in Sochi to its fight against Arizona’s anti-gay law, the company has been willing to clearly stand up for its beliefs.
Also recognized was Educator of the Year, Dr. Laura Taylor, is an assistant superintendent for Champaign Schools in Champaign, Illinois. Previously, she served as principal of Urbana High School, where she used her background in social justice work to organize students, educators and faculty members around issues of acceptance and inclusion in schools. Similarly, as assistant superintendent she established a social justice committee to provide educators with the tools to tackle racism, homophobia, and other forms of institutionalized discrimination experienced by marginalized youth in and out of the classroom.
And Park City High School won the Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year, for their work with schools and local LGBT organizations to create safer schools for LGBT students statewide. By challenging anti-LGBT laws in Utah, hosting community events, partnering with local organizations and reaching out to local media about LGBT issues, Park City High GSA works to connect LGBT youth throughout the state around the safe schools movement. The club also engages an active network of Utah LGBT youth through social media.
"AT&T, a longtime GLSEN partner, is at the corporate forefront of workplace equality, and was just honored as the #1 workplace for LGBT employees by Diversity Inc.," said Byard. "And GLSEN’s Educator of the Year and Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year are brave agents of change on the front lines determined to make their schools and communities all that they must be for every child."
GLSEN 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 www.glsen.org.