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Portland Public Schools Wins Partner for Equality Award

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Portland Public Schools Wins Partner for Equality Award
Posted on 03/23/2016
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The Portland Public Schools is being recognized by EqualityMaine for providing safe and inclusive school learning environments for youth. The district is slated to receive EqualityMaine’s Partner for Equality Award at the organization’s Annual Awards Gala on Saturday, April 9.

EqualityMaine, founded in 1984 as the Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance (MLGPA), is celebrating its 32nd year by honoring the Portland Public Schools.

The district is “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,” EqualityMaine said.

The group said, “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.”

In addition, EqualityMaine said, “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.”

Portland Interim Superintendent Jeanne Crocker called the award “a wonderful recognition for the Portland Public Schools.”

She continued, “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 important message 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 its 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, the group said, 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 will feature a silent auction and reception with live jazz; a seated dinner; celebrity emcees, Blake and Eva from the Coast 93.1 morning show; and a special performance by the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus.

Other honorees will 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 9:30 p.m. For more information, visit EqualityMaine.org or contact Development Director Christopher O’Connor at (207) 761-3732 x19.