Kerry Washington, Robbie Rogers Co-Chairs for the 9th Annual GLSEN Respect Awards-Los Angeles presented by Target and Wells Fargo




GLSEN, The (National) Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), announced that Emmy-nominated, award-winning actress Kerry Washington, star of the hit ABC-TV series Scandal and feature films Django Unchained and Ray, and openly gay LA Galaxy soccer player Robbie Rogers will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs for this year’s GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles presented by Target and Wells Fargo, to take place at The Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday, October 18, 2013.  This year, GLSEN will honor leading global, award-winning entertainment company Lionsgate (Chairman’s Award); Emmy/Golden Globe award-winning producer Linda Bloodworth Thomason (Lifetime Achievement Award); Emmy/Golden Globe award-winning actor Jim Parsons and partner Todd Spiewak (Inspiration Award); and 11th grade student Laila Al-Shamma of Carlsbad, California (2013 Student Advocate of the Year).


In addition, openly gay songwriter, recording artist and YouTube sensation Steve Grand will perform his hit single, “All American Boy“. The internationally-recognized, award-winning John Burroughs High School show choir will open the annual gala, performing a special version of the song “One More Time,” which was written by Academy Award-winning songwriter Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose) and featured in the movies “Sing” and “Sarafina.” Both will be on hand to support GLSEN’s impactful anti-bullying efforts in K-12 schools nationwide.

GLSEN’s Student Advocate of the Year honors an outstanding young person whose efforts have helped ensure a safe learning environment for all students — and have served as a voice of change in their school and community.

Laila is an inspiring example of how students can positively change their school community for generations to come,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “Laila has demonstrated outstanding leadership at her school and community, which is precisely what we seek to honor in the GLSEN Student Advocate of the Year. She has a promising future ahead and I am confident her leadership will continue to inspire those around her.”

“I’m so honored to represent GLSEN as its Student Advocate of the Year,” said honoree Laila Al-Shamma. “This award inspires me and my peers to keep moving forward and help others create safe schools for all LGBTQ youth. Thank you to GLSEN for the encouragement and support you give to students like me across the country.”

A half-Iraqi and one quarter Hispanic lesbian teen, Laila joined her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) when she was a freshman. She quickly became a part of the student club’s leadership resulting in her successful coordination of GLSEN’s Day of Silence and Transgender Day of Remembrance.


With help from her GSA, Laila later went on to spearhead a Safe Space Campaign designed to engage school personnel about the importance of safe spaces for LGBT students at school. Educators were offered a packet of information and asked to display a Safe Space sticker in their classroom. Laila will soon begin making presentations about the campaign to both middle schools in her school district.

Laila created two public education campaigns about LGBT issues for her high school campus, including the online “Care Campaign” focused on crisis prevention and the “Words Hurt” initiative challenging students to pledge not to use homophobic language.

In addition to her GSA activities, Laila is heavily involved in her larger school community. Laila is in two choirs, serves as drum major of her school’s marching band and has a job tutoring other high school students. She also wrote two op-eds for her school’s newspaper about LGBT issues with one editorial winning her the newspaper’s Press Freedom Award. Laila is currently a high school student at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California. She will graduate with the Class of 2015.

The 2013 Student Advocate of the Year was selected through a nationwide search. Four finalists for the national student honor include:

Tristan Lindekugel – Gretna, Nebraska

Eddie Morales – Portland, Oregon

Skyla Liam Spear – Amity, Connecticut

Rayna Tyson – Potomac, Maryland

This year GLSEN is proud to partner alongside AT&T to present our Student Advocate of the Year Award to Laila Al-Shamma,” said Dr. Byard. “We are grateful to have the support of AT&T to honor this student leader who is making a tremendous difference in her community.” The Student Advocate of the Year award will be presented on-stage in addition to three honorees.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students.  Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community.

The GLSEN Respect Awards, held annually in New York and Los Angeles, showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made a significant difference in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models.

GLSEN is on the front lines of keeping kids safe from bullying in our schools.  That’s absolutely a cause that I support and believe in,” said Ms. Washington.

GLSEN levels the playing field for kids who are bullied simply for being themselves,” said Mr. Rogers.  “Any help I can lend to that effort…any way I can make these kids lives a little bit easier, that’s what I’m going to do.”

On July 2, 2013, Steve Grand released his first original song and music video, “All-American Boy” on YouTube becoming an overnight sensaion. The video accumulated more than 1.5 million views in the first two weeks alone and prompted guest appearances on numerous national and local television shows, including ABC’s Good Morning America and the CNN Newsroom.

The internationally-recognized, award-winning John Burroughs High School show choir has won numerous awards, including the Grand Championship at Fame Chicago 2013 and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. ABC’s Dancing With The Stars and NBC’s The Voice. The show choir performed at Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year Night Parade representing the United States.

In addition, the organization also announced the impressive Host Committee for the event, which includes Betsy Beers (Executive Producer – Scandal; Grey’s Anatomy; Private Practice); Dan Berendsen (Creator/Executive Producer – Baby Daddy; The Nine Lives of Chloe King); Greg Berlanti (Executive Producer – Arrow; Brothers and Sisters, Golden Boy; Political Animals); Linda Bell Blue (Executive Producer, Entertainment Tonight); Matt Bomer (Actor – White Collar, Magic Mike); Kevin Brockman (Executive Vice President, Global Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group); Donald De Line (Film Producer – Pain & Gain; Green Lantern; I Love You, Man); Robert Greenblatt (Chairman, NBC Entertainment); Simon Halls (Partner, Slate PR); Dave Karger (Chief Correspondent, Fandango); Carlos Lopez (Events and Special Projects Manager, The A List); David Phoenix (Interior designer); Shonda Rhimes (Creator/Executive Producer – Scandal; Grey’s Anatomy; Private Practice); and Chip Sullivan (Head of Publicity, DreamWorks Studios).

We are grateful for the generous support from this year’s event co-chairs as we honor a group of outstanding leaders that are strongly committed to our belief for schools that teach respect for all,” said Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s Executive Director. “Our event co-chairs generate increased awareness and support for GLSEN that ultimately make it possible for us to focus on ending bullying and harassment in K-12 schools.”

In addition to the evening gala, GLSEN has opened a charityBUZZ online auction where individuals can bid on onece-in-a-lifetime experiences to support GLSEN’s efforts in K-12 schools nationwide. Visit charityBUZZ to view a complete listing of auction items and bidding information. Online auction bids close on October 30. To learn more, visit:

To learn more about the GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles, visit or follow GLSEN on Twitter at @GLSEN and the hashtag #RespectLA.  For more information about GLSEN Respect Awards sponsorships, advertising, tickets and contributions, contact Rachel Silander at or 646.388.6582. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit