WASHINGTON — Aug. 21, 2013 — GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, today announced Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard will join Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter and King family members on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver a speech during the 50th Anniversary Let Freedom Ring Commencement and Call to Action on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
Dr. Byard is the only leader of an LGBT organization selected to speak at the event.
Said Byard: "I am humbled and honored to represent GLSEN at the anniversary of one of the landmark moments in United States and world history. Dr. King and March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin are personal heroes who have inspired me and influenced our work at GLSEN to create a better world for all. GLSEN has spent more than 20 years working to eliminate injustice and inequality directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in K-12 education, and I look forward to delivering a message of hope for a brighter future where every young person has an equal opportunity to get an education."
GLSEN partner organizations working predominantly in the South nominated Dr. Byard to speak at the event, and the King Center selected her for the honor.
Prior to officially joining GLSEN in 2001, Dr. Byard worked with GLSEN to co-produce the award-winning documentary Out of the Past, which highlighted Bayard Rustin and his role as a lead organizer of the March on Washington and the impact of him being both Black and gay on his career as an organizer.
GLSEN will also join a coalition of prominent advocates in education, labor, health and civil and human rights on Saturday by participating in the 50th Anniversary March on Washington. The event marks the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.
While significant progress has been made for LGBT people, including recent U.S. Supreme Court victories on marriage equality in the Windsor and Perry cases, much work remains to advance racial, economic and social justice, including addressing the fact that students of color, an in particular LGBT students of color are disproportionally affected by punitive discipline policies and pushed out of school into the juvenile justice system. GLSEN will continue to support efforts that strengthen fairness, equality and justice throughout the nation.
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. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org .