Article originally appeared in Frontiers In LA
The GLSEN Respect Awards on Oct. 9 at the Beverly Hills Hotel fell so close to the 11th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder on Oct 12, the organization’s mission to stop bullying in schools took on an added significance. That death, harassment and humiliation of LGBT youth has ripple effects was underscored by still-grieving Sirdeaner Walker, the mother of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover, who committed suicide after unrelenting bullying.
“I believe in my heart that bullying isn’t a gay or straight issue,” Walker said, at times chokng back tears. “It’s a safety issue.”
But there was also laughter and a standing ovation for 18-year-old Austin Laufersweiler, who received GLSEN’s inaugural Student Advocate of the Year Award. Also honored were HBO’s major domo Michael Lombardo and Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, whose acceptance speech was delivered by Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey.
In his powerful acceptance speech, honoree David Bohnett of the David Bohnett Foundation said, “It’s time to combat head-on the religious organizations that are funding the opposition to marriage equality and safe school legislation. [We must] confront bigotry and lies with facts.”
For more on GLSEN visit glsen.org.