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EqualityMaine to Honor the Portland Public Schools with the Partner for Equality Award at 32nd Annual Gala on April 9, 2016.

Chris O'Connor's picture
Written by Chris O'Connor
March 17, 2016 - 2:06pm

PORTLAND - EqualityMaine, founded in 1984 as the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance (MLGPA), celebrates its 32nd year by honoring the Portland Public Schools with the Partner for Equality Award at its Annual Awards Gala on Saturday, April 9.

The Portland Public Schools are leading the way for what it means to provide safe and inclusive learning environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in Maine, as well as being an employer of choice for LGBT teachers, administrators and staff.

Portland educators are visible allies to the LGBT community, both in school and throughout the surrounding community. Teachers, administrators and school counselors regularly participate in EqualityMaine’s on-going professional development trainings and conferences, always seeking to improve the experience for LGBT students. Most recently, members of the administration participated in specialized training on how to better support LGBT employees.

The system took a bold step last year and became the first school system in the state to march in a Pride parade, proudly driving a PPS school bus full of students, teachers and parents down Congress Street in Portland.

“This is a wonderful recognition for the Portland Public Schools,”said Portland Interim Superintendent Jeanne Crocker. “As Maine’s largest and most diverse school district, we’re honored to receive this Partner for Equality Award. It not only highlights our ongoing work around inclusivity, diversity and unity, but it also sends an importantvmessage to our students, staff, families and the public that we welcome and value everyone in the Portland Public Schools.”

The Awards Gala and Silent Auction is EqualityMaine’s largest annual fundraiser, supporting our work to advance and protect equality for all LGBT Mainers. EqualityMaine's Youth Initiatives, including a partnership with the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network of Southern Maine (GLSEN), seek to create more inclusive, supportive, and affirming school communities for LGBT, questioning and gender nonconforming youth in Maine.

Unfortunately, many LGBT youth in Maine are not safe in school. The 2013 GLSEN School Climate in Maine Snapshot found that 8 in 10 Maine LGBT students experienced verbal harassment in school and 4 in 10 were physically harassed based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Gala program features:

●      Silent auction and reception with live jazz
●      Seated dinner
●      Celebrity emcees, Blake and Eva from the Coast 93.1 morning show
●      A special performance by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus

Other honorees include:
Ian Harvie, co-star of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning series, Transparent:  Great Pioneer Award
Susanne MacArthur: FE Pentlarge Ally Award
Dylan Burns, Cheyenne Candow, Erynn Simmons, UMaine Farmington: Young Leader Award
Steven Bridges, Michael Snell, and Sue Cook: Out Front Volunteer Leadership Awards

The event will be held at the Holiday Inn By The Bay on Saturday, April 9 from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
For more information, visit EqualityMaine.org or contact Development Director, Christopher O’Connor at  (207) 761-3732 x19.

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