GLSEN, the leading education organization for LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 schools, hosted the 2019 Respect Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on Monday night.
The awards, held annually since 2004 in New York and Los Angeles, honor students, educators, individuals, and corporations who have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ youth.
This year, the Educator of the Year Award went to Ace Schwarz, a 7th-grade science teacher at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport, MD. Ace works to bring LGBTQ+ inclusive topics and support into the classroom. They also teach an English enrichment class that centers identity and LGBTQ+ terms and history.
The GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) of the Year Award went to The Loveless Academic Magnet Program (LAMP) High School GSA, Spectrum. Spectrum, located in Montgomery, AL, and formed just 10 months ago, has already begun working with non-profits and providing desperately needed safe spaces for students. They are the first GSA in the area to nationally register with GLSEN.
This year’s Inspiration Award went to Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie for his long-standing commitment to LGBTQ+ youth. He uses his platform to bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community, and last summer pledged a one million dollar gift to GLSEN to invest in student-led GSA clubs in K-12 schools.
The Champion Award went to “POSE”, the critically acclaimed drama series. The series features the largest cast of transgender actors in series regular roles and tells the stories of transgender people of color and LGBTQ+ people of color in 1980s New York. Co-creator Stephen Canals accepted the award. We got the chance to catch up with him and several other stars at the event’s red carpet. Check out the interviews here.
Other notable attendees included Jim Parsons, Will Roland, Aja, Dusty Ray Bottoms, and 11-year-old drag performer Desmond is Amazing. In an exciting turn of events, Cyndi Lauper, who helped present the evening’s awards, made a surprise appearance on the red carpet.