GLSEN, the leading national non-profit organization working to create safe and inclusive learning and school experiences for LGBTQ+ youth, is pleased to announce that this year’s Respect Awards will honor outgoing Executive Director Eliza Byard for her twenty years of service and leadership.

The virtual event will celebrate GLSEN’s accomplishments during her tenure and look to the future at what’s next for the organization. The evening will feature past GLSEN honorees, music performances and some of the amazing LGBTQ+ student honorees from past Respect Awards celebrations. The combined LA and New York event will premiere on Thursday, October 14th.

GLSEN is also honored and excited to announce the Honorary Co-Chairs for this year’s event are Kalen Allen, Jennifer Beals, Greg Berlanti & Robbie Rogers, Matt Bomer & Simon Halls, Jess Cagle & Matt Whitney, Charlie Carver, Jason Collins & Brunson Green, Tim Cook, Rosario Dawson, Connor Franta, Bob Greenblatt & Stephen Loguidice, Carla Gugino, Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jim Parsons & Todd Spiewak, Billy Porter, Zachary Quinto, Julia Roberts & Danny Moder, Mj Rodriguez, and Octavia Spencer.

“Eliza Byard has been a force of nature for GLSEN in her commitment to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ youth,” said Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, interim Executive Director, GLSEN. “As we began to plan this year’s Respect Awards, we immediately knew we wanted to shine a light on Eliza and celebrate her impact on GLSEN and the students we serve. It will be a special evening of music, memories and an opportunity to highlight GLSEN’s plans for the future.”

“It has been a privilege and an honor to be part of this extraordinary organization. I am proud of all that we have accomplished together to transform the K-12 experience for LGBTQ+ students and their peers over the past twenty years,” said Byard. “It has been so rewarding to work alongside amazing colleagues across the country and around the world in pursuit of respect for all. I am excited to see what is ahead for GLSEN and its new leadership and vision.”

The GLSEN Respect Awards, introduced in 2004 and held annually in Los Angeles and New York, showcases the work of students, educators, community leaders, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ youth. Past honorees included Kerry Washington, Tim Cook, Yara Shahidi, Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jim Parsons & Todd Spiewak, Julia Roberts & Danny Moder, Matt Bomer & Simon Halls, Ellen Pompeo, Octavia Spencer, and Rosario Dawson.

Event Co-Chairs for the 2021 Respect Awards are Andrew Graham, Michel Mercure, Patrick Moran, Ryan Pedlow, Jeannette Perez, Ben Roy, Elizabeth Stribling-Kivlan, Chip Sullivan, Alicin Reidy Williamson and Chely Wright.

For three decades, GLSEN has led the way on LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 education through ground-breaking original research, innovative program development, educator training, student organizing, and targeted state and federal advocacy. With the development of educational resources, direct engagement of youth and educators, and GLSEN national programs like GLSEN Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week and Solidarity Week. GLSEN has seen the impact of its work in measurable improvements in the lives of LGBTQ+ students in the United States.

Sponsorships for the Respect Awards are available now. For additional information, please click here.

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