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GLSEN to Present Hawaii High School Student Club with...


Matthew McGibney

Communications Assistant



Apr 29, 2013

NEW YORK - April 19, 2013 - GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, today announced Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High School of Honolulu, Hawaii will receive the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award at GLSEN's Respect Awards - New York on May 20. Farrington was Honolulu's first public high school in the state to have a GSA, bringing visibility to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students and their allies living in the community.

The GSA of the Year award honors a student club that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to ensure that all students in their school community feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

"Winning this award - through an organization I've been with since the beginning - makes me feel so accomplished," said Jonah Saribay, a GSA member of Farrington High School. "It means a lot, especially since the GSA is an organization I love being in, and have dedicated so much time and effort to help spread equality and acceptance in my school. I'm inspired to work with more people in our community, and help LGBT youth growing up now."

Farrington's GSA has brought attention to LGBT students through events like the AIDS Walk Hawaii, the Hawaii Student Forum, the Hawaii Student Safety Net Conference and the Youth in Hawaii Symposium. The students of the club also organized the school's first LGBT youth bullying awareness day in 2011.

"Hawaii is often pictured as an island paradise; but in reality, we too, struggle with intolerance and discrimination, particularly towards our LGBT population," said Alison Colby, co-advisor of Farrington High School's GSA. "Our school is located in the center of a tough urban area, and consequently, our reputation is often negative. This honor gives us all a tremendous lift - it is a celebration of our youth's power to create a school and community based on acceptance and love."

"We are proud to honor Farrington High School GSA as GLSEN's Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year on behalf of the all of the students reached by its work," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. "They have taken a leading role in making sure that all students in their community feel safe and are treated with respect. We look forward to recognizing Farrington's achievements on the big stage in New York."

Writer and prominent transgender advocate Janet Mock graduated from Farrington High School in 2001. Mock will be present at the GLSEN Respect Awards to celebrate with her alma mater.

"As a former student leader and member of Farrington's trans student group Chrysalis, I know firsthand that the administration's longstanding commitment to LGBTQ youth changes lives," Mock said. "Their openness and affirmation of all students regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation is one that should be held as a model of success."

GSAs are student-led clubs that help to ensure middle and high schools offer a safe and affirming environment for all students. GSAs offer a series of benefits for LGBT students and their allies:

  • GSAs have shown tremendous value in providing safe spaces and critical support for LGBT students. Students in schools with GSAs are less likely to hear homophobic remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" in school on a daily basis than students without a GSA (57% compared to 75%).
  • LGBT students in schools with GSAs are less likely to miss school because they feel unsafe compared to other students: a quarter (26%) of students in schools with GSAs missed school in the past month because they felt unsafe compared to a third (32%) of students at schools without GSAs.
  • Students in schools with a GSA are more likely to report that school faculty, staff and administrators are supportive of lesbian, gay and bisexual students (52% compared to 32%).

The Respect Awards, held annually in New York and Los Angeles, showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made outstanding contributions as leaders in our safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models to our nation's youth.