'An example for Hawaii, the nation'
Students at Farrington High are drawing national praise for bringing visibility to their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) classmates.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) awarded Farrington High with its Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award at GLSEN's Respect Awards in New York on May 20.
“I applaud and commend Farrington High students and staff for their award-winning work to promote understanding and respect among its LGBT community,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “They are setting an example for Hawaii and the nation.”
The GSA of the Year award honors a student club that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to ensure all students in their school community feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
“Winning this award — through an organization I've been with since the beginning — makes me feel so accomplished,” said senior Jonah Saribay, a Farrington High GSA member. "It means a lot, especially since the GSA is an organization I love being in, and have dedicated so much time and effort to help spread equality and acceptance in my school. I'm inspired to work with more people in our community, and help LGBT youth growing up now."
“This award is a tribute to the students and staff,” said Farrington High Principal Al Carganilla. “We are excited for the students and their courage in being who they are. More importantly, they are getting the message across to the whole school community.”
Farrington's GSA has brought attention to LGBT students through weekly afterschool meetings, field trips, a public service announcement, and community events such as the AIDS Walk.
“Hawaii is often pictured as an island paradise; but in reality, we too, struggle with intolerance and discrimination, particularly towards our LGBT population," said Alison Colby, co-advisor of Farrington High’s GSA. "Our school is located in the center of a tough urban area, and consequently, our reputation is often negative. This honor gives us all a tremendous lift - it is a celebration of our youth's power to create a school and community based on acceptance and love.”
“We are proud to honor Farrington High School GSA as GLSEN's Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year on behalf of all of the students reached by its work," said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN's Executive Director. “They have taken a leading role in making sure that all students in their community feel safe and are treated with respect.”
Writer and prominent transgender advocate Janet Mock graduated from Farrington High in 2001.
“As a former student leader and member of Farrington's trans student group Chrysalis, I know firsthand that the administration's longstanding commitment to LGBTQ youth changes lives,” Mock said. “Their openness and affirmation of all students regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation is one that should be held as a model of success.”
The GLSEN's Respect Awards, held annually in New York and Los Angeles, showcase the work of corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made outstanding contributions as leaders in our safe schools movement, and who serve as exemplary role models to our nation's youth.