At the recent 6th Annual Washington State Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Recognition Ceremony, awardees included folks from Kitsap County and Mason County. Both were being recognized for their essential work for safe spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and ally youth.
The Community Leader of the Year Award went to Linsey Mayhew for her work in keeping the Q Center (Silverdale) a safe and vibrant place for Kitsap County LGBTQ youth.
The Advisor of the Year Award went to Debra Bidwell for her work as an advisor for the North Mason High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).
Linsey and Debra had good company, as one of the other awardees was Dan Savage (of Seattle) – The IMPACT Award went to Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller for their work starting the It Gets Better Project. The It Gets Better Project was a response to tragic suicides by young LGBT folks, and is an effort to give hope to those youth about what the future holds for them. The idea is for individuals and groups to send in their videos with the message of It Gets Better. The videos now number in the thousands, and the number of times they have been viewed in the millions.
From It Gets Better Project website:
“The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.”
One of the other GLSEN awards has an important link to Kitsap County. The Rob Goldsworthy Outstanding Educator of the Year Award, which went to Mike Knoth of Bellingham High School, is named after a popular Bainbridge Island High School teacher. He taught there for 12 years until he passed away.
Other awards handed out by GLSEN Washington that night:
Community Organization of the Year Award:
GSA Student Leader of the Year Award
Riley Peterson, Kent Phoenix Academy
Ashlee Newlin, Bellingham High School
Sam Behrens, Lakeside School
Zoe Evans, Lake Washington High School
Inspirational GSA of the Year Award
Garfield High School, Seattle
Educational Excellence Award
Wendy Long, Kennewick School Board Member
Volunteers of the Year
Here are some links to videos from the Evening:
Keynote speech by Representative Marko Liias
It was great to see the hard work of all the awardees recognized by GLSEN Washington.