GLSEN Respect Awards were held last Monday at Cipriani 42nd street.
GLSEN was founded in support of LGBTQ rights, in pursuit of justice within the K-12 educational system and a workforce to be better composed against discriminatory behavior and prejudice against children of all orientations. GLSEN has been present in the advocacy of gay rights since 1990. And according to GLSEN’s official site; research by the organization has been used in challenging and informing legislators, advocating LGBT resources in school and developing practices for the purpose of nurturing a fair school environment. For Monday’s ceremony, it was an annual dinner, followed by awards and celebration; with the honorees, including actress Rosario Dawson (Unstoppable, Top Five) and educator Stephanie Byers, taking the stage. Many other big names included: Miss J. Alexander (America’s Next Top Model), Dyllon Burnside (Pose, High Maintenance) and Cheech Manohar (Mean Girls), also hit up the event – and it was a splendid time.
Thankfully at the height of the excitement, Kerry Butler of Mean Girls fame gave us some of her time on the red carpet, as we discussed the important event. Read below:
The Knockturnal: What brings you to the event tonight?
Kerry Butler: Well, I’m in the cast of Mean Girls, and so I think one of our producers is involved with this, so they asked me and Cheech to present an award tonight. And our show is about bullying too and I think that’s something that GLSEN is very involved with. We read that 2 out of 3 LGBTQ teens in schools are discriminated against. So that’s what GLSEN does, they go through grades K-12 and teach the teachers better curriculum and also join organizations so that the students can then learn about inclusion, so it’s just about for everybody to not discriminate.
The Knockturnal: How does your role in Mean Girls relate?
Kerry Butler: I think it’s just that our show is specifically about bullying and learning to all get along and accept each other’s differences and then that’s what this organization is about.
The Knockturnal: Do you believe there has been progress?
Kerry Butler: Well, in New York, for sure. You know, I have two daughters and … I told them about coming tonight and they were like; “wait, people have a problem with two men being married”? And, because you know, so many kids in their class – their parents are gay, so for them, it’s the norm, but I think that’s because we live in the city. I’m so happy with my kids’ school because they are so inclusive. At any time, anything is in the headlines of the news, they recruit families so that our kids then are – they don’t choose the discriminatory stance – whatever it is, you know? … And I think once you know people, when we see our friends who are gay and have children and they are the most incredible parents, then it’s like, why would you have a problem with that? And that’s why for my kids they’re like; “wait, what?”
The Knockturnal: If you had the power to propose a loose reform to help the LGBT community, what would that be?
Kerry Butler: I think that it’s more just about normalizing it and one of the really positive things our kids’ school does, is that, you know, when they send out letters home, they don’t say “mom and dad”, they’ll say “mom and mom” or “dad and dad”, so that’s one small step that you can say that “your lifestyle’s okay with me”. I feel like this organization is good at just bringing awareness to tiny things like that, that you can help a family feel accepted. Like a kid who has two moms or two dads, like if they get the letter to “mom and dad”, they’re gonna feel like the outcast. So I think there’s small things like that. I haven’t really thought about what I would do differently, but I think that’s what this organization does. And, you know, the bathrooms. That’s a big issue now and I think the more people get educated just about all of our differences, the better. The more schools do that – about everything, then the better our world is.