GLSEN Names Laura Taylor of Illinois Educator of the Year
Taylor to Be Honored At GLSEN Respect Awards – New York on May 19
Digital Communications Assistant
NEW YORK – April 29, 2014 – GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education, is proud to announce the selection of Dr. Laura Taylor as the 2014 GLSEN Educator of the Year. The annual award recognizes an educator who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to GLSEN's mission of ensuring safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
“GLSEN is proud to honor Dr. Taylor for her exceptional work creating safer and more inclusive schools in the Champaign Unit 4 School District,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “As both a school principal and an assistant superintendent, Dr. Taylor has shown an unfaltering commitment to improving the educational experience for youth across the board.”
As principal of Urbana High School in Illinois from 2006-2012, Dr. Taylor established a social justice committee for educators and others to acknowledge and challenge the different levels of privilege experienced by students and their families, and its effects on their access to educational resources. Taylor helped lead projects including a highly attended public forum to raise awareness of LGBT issues in schools and a Think B4 You Speak video, inspired by GLSEN’s Think B4 You Speak Ad Council campaign, aimed at stopping discriminatory language.
In 2012, Laura became an assistant superintendent for Champaign Schools, where she established another social justice committee to provide professional development opportunities for educators. Topics addressed included white privilege, intersectionality, racism, sexual orientation and gender identity, exclusionary practices, equality and justice, and forms of resistance. Her future initiatives with the committee include a collaborative forum with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to tackle the disparate impact of school discipline on LGBT youth and youth of color.
“Receiving this award is an incredible honor and I am so thankful to GLSEN for the work being done to support a healthy school environment for all students,” Taylor said. “I am confident this recognition will help spread the message that we must do better in terms of providing safe, welcoming, and loving spaces for LGBTQ students, families, and educators in our schools. I encourage those like myself, those who have benefited from unearned privileges, to use their formal, informal, professional, or social positions to facilitate positive change. To me, overcoming systemically fostered disparities is our most significant moral imperative and the only way we will get to true access and opportunity for all.”
GLSEN’s Respect Awards, held annually in New York and Los Angeles, showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made a significant difference in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, 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.