With less than three weeks to go until the general election, the rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign was the topic on everyone’s minds at the 2016 GLSEN Respect Awards in Los Angeles on Friday.
This year’s awards honored Kate Hudson with the Inspiration Award, YouTube star Connor Franta with the #Gamechanger Award, and People and Entertainment Weekly editorial director Jess Cagle with the Visionary Award.
“We’ve made so many steps forward, and to suddenly be involved in a year where so many people are spewing so much hate – whether it’s towards women, or LGBT people, or anyone else – it’s a scary time,” “Baby Daddy” star Chelsea Kane told Variety.
“I normally hate politics,” “This Is Us” star Milo Ventimiglia explained. “But because of this election, I’ve paid attention. I have opened my ears and I have educated myself… And I think it’s a very good time for America to step up and decide what we want and who we want, to promote inclusiveness, which I think is something that just sadly falls away in political times.”
“This is an event about respect and it’s about love,” Nina Dobrev told Variety, regarding her attendance for the evening. “And unfortunately we’re not seeing those things reflected in politics and in schools or in very many places in the world right now.”
“Politics is very dangerous for a lot of minorities,” Jess Cagle added. “Politics is dangerous for LGBT youth, in particular, because every time you hear a politician speak out — against marriage equality, for example — what this little kid is hearing is, ‘I’m worthless. I don’t deserve respect. I don’t deserve equality. And I’m not worthy of being loved.’ Those messages are rough. And those messages unfortunately are part of our political discourse right now. What those kids have to remember — and this is what GLSEN is so great about — is, don’t listen to those voices. Those are voices telling you to be like everyone else. And nobody in this room who’s a success — look over there at Jeffrey Katzenberg, look at Kate Hudson — whoever you want… none of those people became a success by being like everyone else. And none of those people became a success by doing anything less than embracing what was special about them. And let those kids know that. Because the bullying and the name-calling and the violence is never going to go away.”
GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard explained how this has been an unprecedented year for her organization’s work.
“Year after year, teachers use the presidential election as a way to teach about civics, and as a way to get students involved in the political process, and that has not been possible in the same way this year. There has undeniably been an affect in schools because of the kinds of things that Donald Trump has said about whether or not certain people can be a part of this country.”
GLSEN champions safe and affirming schools for all students. The non-profit – which has existed since 1990 — envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. The Respect Awards have taken place annually in both New York and Los Angeles since 2004.
Co-chairs for this year’s Los Angeles event were Jim Fielding, Dave Karger, Patrick Moran and Chip Sullivan. The event was co-hosted by Lawrence Angrisani, Greg Berlanti and Robbie Rogers, Brad Bessey and Frank Sanchez, Edison Briones, Kevin Brockman and Dan Berendsen, Jess Cagle, Jessica Capshaw and Christopher Gavigan, Terry Clark, Donald De Line, Andrew Hotz and Kevin Friedman, Lauren Huff, Mike Irvin, Richard Konigsberg and Craig Olsen, Duncan Millership and Simon Thomas, Cody Morris and Christopher Landon, Corey Palent, Jonathan Rollo and Joey Gonzalez, Ben Roy, Mimi Slavin, and Ben Spector.
Honorary co-chairs for the event – all in attendance — included Julia Roberts and Danny Moder, Matt Bomer and Simon Halls, Bob Greenblatt, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chris McMillan, and Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak.
Additional attendees included Kate Mulgrew, Garrett Clayton, Charlie Carver, Maddie Baillio, and Ephraim Sykes.
Sponsors of the 2016 GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles included Presenting Sponsors Wells Fargo, Target and The Walt Disney Company.