GSAFE, an organization that works to create safe schools for LGBTQ youth, will host its 22nd annual fundraiser and banquet on Saturday, May 12.
The event, called Celebration of Leadership, will be held at the Monona Terrace from 5 until 8:30 pm.
For the past two decades, GSAFE has given scholarships to students and awards to community activists and educators who have promoted diversity, shown activism and created change in their environments that benefit youth, especially in the LGBTQ community.
This year, GSAFE is giving out scholarships to four students from all over the state of Wisconsin. Kids who are seniors in high school can receive the financial scholarship for all kinds of community activism.
“Students organize sit ins, protests or create inclusive study groups,” said Ali Muldrow, one of the organizers. “Students who receive the awards usually have a large body of activism. So it’s young folks who have worked to do things that have a long-term environmental impact in terms of LGBTQ issues, addressing racial dynamics in their community, creating equal access to education in their community. A lot of the young people identify as LGBTQ, so many of them are advocating for themselves and their dignity and their right to be at school and be welcomed. That extends for them to advocating for others and showing activism.”
The scholarships the students receive don’t have to be used for college, although many students do use it for that purpose. Other students use the scholarship to pay for a laptop or just transportation for themselves, or a wide variety of other uses that further their ability to pursue their goals.
“The scholarships are there to provide support for students to achieve their dreams,” Muldrow said. “They’re not specific to college. Some use them to explore the art they are interested in. We give the award because we want to invest in their interests.”
The event itself is a fundraiser to support, in part, different programming for students statewide and to make sure GSAFE has the funding it needs to make sure students have resources and is able to pair students with people who advocate for their needs.
GSAFE also gives out a community award for Outstanding Leadership. State Superintendent Tony Evers will be receiving the 2018 Outstanding Leadership Award. Evers, who is currently a gubernatorial candidate in the Democratic primary, has been a champion for public education in Wisconsin. Evers has been a vocal opponent of “bathroom bills” and other attacks on LGBTQ youth. He has also opposed attempts by the Legislature to outlaw local non-discrimination ordinances.
An educator from Nuestro Mundo Community School will receive the Educator of the year award.
A social hour will begin at 5 pm Saturday and there will be a social hour and silent auction followed by a 6 pm dinner and program. Tickets are listed at $85 per person and $35 for middle and high school students, but to ensure that cost is not a barrier to people who want to attend, GSAFE will offer a sliding scale for paying to get in. People who need a reduced price can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“Supporting this event is an opportunity to support students all across Wisconsin,” Muldrow said. “This is a great way to invest in a future that is sustainable and kind to people.”