Respect Awards HOME
A Note from Kevin Jennings
It is with both excitement and sadness I invite you to the 5th Annual Respect Awards Ė New York.
I am excited because the event promises to be our best yet, as we honor Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, philanthropist Ron Ansin, and DiversityInc for their leadership in helping create safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Each has truly fought to make Respect the ďFourth RĒ we teach in schools and I am privileged to be able to honor them.
I am sad for two reasons. The first is because of shocking recent events in Oxnard, California, where 8th grader Lawrence King was gunned down in his English class at E.O. Green Junior High on Feb. 12 by a bully who repeatedly targeted him because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. Like many of you, I remember feeling stunned when, ten years ago, news broke that a gay college student named Matthew Shepard had been tied to a fence and beaten to death because he was gay. Ten years later, itís a junior high student who has been killed. My sadness over this tragic parallel is indescribable. Never has the need for GLSENís work been clearer to me.
I feel sad as well because this will be my last Respect Awards, as I am stepping down as GLSENís Executive Director on August 1. I founded GLSEN as an all-volunteer group in 1990 and became its first employee in 1994. After nearly two decades leading this fight, I now look forward to being a supporting player as new leadership carries GLSENís work forward. The 2008 Respect Awards will be my chance to thank the folks who have enabled us to build GLSEN from a core of three volunteers in Boston in 1990 to a national organization with a presence in all 50 states. My gratitude to all of you is indescribable as well.
I hope to see you all on Monday, May 19, for my last hurrah.