NEW YORK, Oct. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be honored by PFLAG NYC—Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of New York City—on Monday, October 10, both for his ongoing initiatives to make New York City's schools safer and more welcoming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students and for his critical support of the Marriage Equality bill in New York. For his work on behalf of LGBT youth and the LGBT community and their families and friends, the mayor will receive the "Stay Close" Individual Leadership Award.
Beginning in 2008 with his endorsement of new school regulations on bias-related harassment to the Department of Education's growing "Respect for All" Program, the Mayor has been an advocate for equal access to an education for all young people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. "Bullying and harassment impede our students' ability to learn. When students are victims of bullying because of race, sexual orientation, or other factors, they simply cannot focus on learning, and we cannot allow that," said Mayor Bloomberg.
Mayor Bloomberg is also the proud uncle of a lesbian niece, Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals. His advocacy for the Marriage Equality bill this year proved to be a deciding factor in its success. Speaking about his niece, gay friends and staff, Mayor Bloomberg said, "I cannot tell them that marriage is not for them. I cannot tell them that a civil union is good enough."
Sandra Lee, best-selling author and host of the popular "Semi-Homemade" show on the Food Network is receiving the "Stay Close" Family Leadership Award. With a brother whom she loves who happens to be gay, she worked effectively to garner support for the Marriage Equality bill. And as Governor Andrew Cuomo's significant other, she reminded him constantly of the personal and family side of the struggle.
The awards dinner will highlight the progress of the Safe Schools Program of PFLAG NYC. In just the past five years, the program has grown by more than 500%, with PFLAG NYC teams working directly with over 4,500 middle and high school students in the past school year, and ever-increasing numbers of principals and counselors requesting PFLAG NYC's help in combating bullying and increasing awareness and understanding of LGBT people in their schools.
Further highlighting the struggles of LGBT young people in New York City, the "Stay Close" Leadership in Entertainment Award will be presented to Gun Hill Road, a breakthrough independent film dramatizing one Bronx family's conflicting response to having a transgender teenager and that child's journey to define herself in a neighborhood and culture that is neither understanding nor accepting. Written and directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green, the film features a debut performance by teenager and Bronx-native Harmony Santana and also stars Judy Reyes and Esai Morales.
Hosting the VIP reception will be Tony-nominated stars of "The Book of Mormon," Rory O'Malley and Nikki M. James.
The evening's emcee will be MSNBC anchor, Thomas Roberts.
Major national and New York corporations help support the work of PFLAG NYC in the schools and helping to keep families together when someone comes out as LGBT. JetBlue, New York's Hometown Airline™, is the Platinum Sponsor of the dinner for a sixth consecutive year. Other sponsors include the National Basketball League (NBA), MetLife, NBCUniversal, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
The cocktail hour, VIP reception and Silent Auction will begin at 6 PM, followed by dinner and the awards program, all happening on Monday, October 10, 2011 at the all-new Three Sixty, 10 Desbrosses St., in Tribeca.
About PFLAG New York City
PFLAG NYC is the founding chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the nation's foremost family-based organization committed to the civil rights of LGBT people and which has more than 250,000 members and supporters in 500 chapters throughout the United States.
In New York City, PFLAG NYC runs programs and services to promote the well-being and equality of LGBT people and their families. The Support Program provides information and offers regular support groups and other community-based assistance to preserve relationships within families when someone comes out as LGBT and to help LGBT people whose families are not accepting. The Safe Schools Program brings PFLAG NYC's support into the community by working with teachers, principals, counselors, and students to ensure that LGBT youth are safe and successful in school. PFLAG NYC also runs the award-winning, public awareness and education campaign, "Stay Close" (www.stayclose.org), which features straight celebrities along with their LGBT family members. PFLAG NYC is a strong advocate for LGBT equality in the public arena and has helped achieve important legislation, such as New York's Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). For further information, visit our website at www.pflagnyc.org.
SOURCE PFLAG NYC