GLSEN to honor Chaz Bono, Reiners, Rick Welts in annual ‘Respect Awards’

GLSEN to honor Chaz Bono, Reiners, Rick Welts  in annual ‘Respect Awards’

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, has announced it will honor Chaz Bono, Michele and Rob Reiner, Phoenix Suns President and CEO Rick Welts and the 2011 Student Advocate of the Year at its seventh annual Respect Awards.

Held annually in Los Angeles and New York, The Respect Awards showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made a significant impact in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the Safe Schools Movement

“GLSEN is thrilled to honor these amazing supporters, advocates and partners who have helped propel our vision to make schools safe and affirming for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said.

This year, GLSEN will offer five awards to recognize efforts to ensure schools are safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression:

From left: Chaz Bono, Michele and Rob Reiner, Rick Welts

Bono, an LGBT rights advocate, author, speaker and the only child of famed entertainers Sonny and Cher, will receive the “Hero Award.”

An acclaimed author, Bono has written three books including “Transition,” his groundbreaking and candid account of a 40-year struggle to match his gender identity with his physical body and his transformation from female to male. He has recently shared his life and experiences in the three-time Emmy nominated documentary “Becoming Chaz.”

Bono recently signed on to compete with 11 other celebrities in the 13th season of ABC’s hit show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Michele and Rob Reiner — founding board members of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge of California’s Proposition 8 — will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michele, an accomplished photographer, producer and children’s advocate, co-founded Parents’ Action for Children (formerly the I Am Your Child Foundation) and produced the prime time ABC special “I Am Your Child.” Rob, an actor and director, teamed with political strategist Chad Griffin in 2008 to form the American Foundation for Equal Rights, working to protect and advance equal rights for gay and lesbian couples across the country.

Welts, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Phoenix Suns, will receive the Inspiration Award. In May 2011, Rick became the first professional sports executive to come out publicly, and has since stated that he wants to be a mentor to LGBT people who harbor doubts about a sports career, whether on the court or in the front office. [Welts last week announced his resignation from the Suns.]

GLSEN will also present its 2011 Student Advocate of the Year.

Wells Fargo will also be honored with a “Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Award.”

This year’s Respect Awards will be presented on Oct. 21, the last day of GLSEN’s Ally Week, held in schools across the country to identify, support and celebrate allies.

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