Last night at the annual Respect Awards New York, GLSEN, the leading national education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools for LGBTQ+ youth, honored Tony-Award winning singer, actress and songwriter Idina Menzel, non-binary Broadway singer, and actor and artist Justin David Sullivan among others.
Menzel received the organization’s Ally Award, Sullivan received the Game Changer Award, Daniel Hadi received the Student Advocate of the Year Award; and Freedom to Learn, a network of organizations, academics, artists, advocates and policy-makers addressing structural inequality, was honored with the Movement Builder Award.
Hosted by Kalen Allen, the event featured a performance by Jeremy Jordan who sang “Let it Go,” “Defying Gravity” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” along with words of encouragement and support by presenters Chasten Buttigieg and Dominique Jackson. Other guests in attendance included: Jelani Alladin, Marti Cummings, David Granados, Imara Jones, Travis Shumake, Oklahoma Representative Mauree Turner, as well as the cast of Broadway’s & Juliet including Philippe Arroyo, Michael Ivan Carrier, Bobby “Pocket” Horner, Joomin Hwang, Megan Kane, Brittany Nicholas, Veronica Otim, Jasmine Rafael, Matt Raffy, Tiernan Tunnicliffe, Ben Jackson Walker, and GLSEN’s Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers among others.
“At a time when LGBTQ+ youth are under attack from extremist legislators, GLSEN is proud to honor incredible activists, allies, and students who rise up for LGBTQ+ youth every day. We’re thankful for all of our honorees, presenters, attendees, and sponsors for making the Respect Awards such a huge success. We’re grateful to work alongside so many incredible leaders, and together, we’re going to continue to fight back against hateful rhetoric and attempts to dismantle our rights.”said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, GLSEN Executive Director.
“T-Mobile has been a long-time supporter of GLSEN because of their important work to empower LGBTQ+ youth through connections to resources that enable them to advocate for themselves and others closely aligns with our belief that every person has the right to feel safe, seen, heard and prepared to achieve their ambitions,” said Holli Martinez, vice president, diversity, equity, and inclusion for T-Mobile. “We continue to be incredibly proud of our long-standing partnership with GLSEN and are thrilled to honor those who share that commitment at this week’s 2023 Respect Awards.”
The GLSEN Respect Awards, introduced in 2004 and held annually in Los Angeles and New York, showcase the work of students, educators, community leaders, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. Chasten Buttigieg, Dominique Jackson, Billy Porter, and Lena Waithe served as honorary co-chairs. The annual awards ceremony was presented by T-Mobile. Additional sponsors for the evening included: Hollister, Wells Fargo, Target, Ulta Beauty, NBA and WNBA, BMW and Nickelodeon. The event was produced by LA-based event company, JJLA.
For nearly three decades, GLSEN has led the way on LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 education through ground-breaking original research, innovative program development, educator training, student organizing, and targeted state and federal advocacy. With the development of educational resources, direct engagement of youth and educators, and GLSEN national programs like Rise Up, Day of Silence, Solidarity Week, and Changing the Game, GLSEN has seen the impact of its work in measurable improvements in the lives of LGBTQ+ students in the U.S.