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Pride NW announces 2011 award winners

Pride in Action award winners Belinda Carroll (L) and Joe LeBlanc

Each year Pride NW gives out 3 awards just prior to Pride season, “Spirit of Pride” Award, Youth Award (22 years old or younger) and the “Pride In Action” Award (for volunteer work in service to the community), in addition to the Grand Marshall honor, which this year goes to La Lucha: Portland Latino Gay Pride.

This year’s Spirit of Pride award goes to former Q Center board member Bob Speltz, for some largely unrecognized behind the scenes work. According to Pride NW President Debra Porta, “As one of the original founders of the Q Center, Portland’s LGBTQ community center, Bob has been instrumental in bringing Portland’s LGBTQ community together in ways that had not happened before, and giving us a home to call our own.”

The Pride in Action prize for 2011 goes to both Joe LeBlanc and Belinda Carroll. Both were chosen for their commitment to grassroots activism. LeBlanc and Carroll both played a vital role in the creation of Q Patrol as well participating in other community efforts.

Lastly, the Youth Award goes to Merlo Station High School Gay-Straight Alliance Student Leaders Samantha Tobey, Hayden Jefferson and Sarah Seashore. Their GSA was extremely active this year with Pride NW providing this rundown off all the amazing things they’ve accomplished:

1)  Organized a student group which marched in Pride 2010.

2)  Organized a student group which participated in AIDS Walk 2010.

3)  Planned and carried out a two-day all-school event for National Coming Out Day…

4)  Developed a “No Bigoted Speech” pledge aimed at reducing the derogatory use of “gay” and “faggot” and increasing student ownership of their language.  Pledge signers received a rainbow pin.

Twenty-five percent of the student body and staff signed the pledge, and many rainbow pins are still proudly worn.

5)  During No Name-Calling Week, GSA members helped develop a PowerPoint presentation on homophobic speech.  The students presented the information to ten classes, targeting over fifty percent of the school population.

6)  The GSA organized and hosted the first-ever all-GSA event for the Beaverton school district.  Students and staff networked and planned future socializing/ activism events.

7)  The GSA planned and carried out “Queer Visibility Day” in lieu of the Day of Silence, and will hold a silent vigil to remember the young people who committed suicide this past year…

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