Octavia Spencer, Kalen Allen, Jonathan Bennett & More Help Prevent Anti-LGBTQ Bullying and Discrimination in Schools at GLSEN Respect Awards

The event honored many leaders as well as showcased the work of students, educators, community leaders, and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 25: Octavia Spencer attends the GLSEN Respect Awards Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)

Going to school should be a positive experience for all students and unfortunately that is not always the case. Bullying is an extreme problem worldwide and a majority of the victims are LGBTQ+ youth.

GLSEN is helping get rid of the problem, as the organization creates programs and resources to help schools become more inclusive for LGBTQ students.

“We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression,” the organization notes.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 25: Madelaine Petsch speaks onstage at the GLSEN Respect Awards Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images Entertainment Video for GLSEN)

Each year since 2004, the organization holds the annual The Respect Awards in Los Angeles and New York, which honors other prominent figures who are role models and advocates for the victims. Held at the Beverly Wilshire – A Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Friday (October 25), the organization honored Octavia Spencer with the Inspiration Award, Apple CEO Tim Cook with the Champion Award, the cast and producers of the Warner Bros. Television/The CW television series “Riverdale” including Madelaine Petsch for the Gamechanger Award, Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke, who accepted the Visionary Award on behalf of Amazon Studios, and Elle Smith, who was honored with Student Advocate of the Year.

“Organizations [like GLSEN] inspire me,” presenter Kalen Allen tells Celeb Secrets. “I understand where my place is now in life and I think about where I was when I was their age and if I were to have someone to look at that I could be like, ‘oh wow that’s who I could be’ or ‘I could even accomplish far beyond what they have accomplished’ that I can identify with, my entire trajectory would have been different. I don’t regret anything at all though because it’s made me who I am.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 25: Kalen Allen attends the GLSEN Respect Awards Los Angeles at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)

Other presenters and additional special guests throughout the evening included Shannon Beveridge, Bruce Bozzi, Raymond Braun, Connor Franta, August Getty, Liv Hewson, Our Lady J, Jeffrey & Marilyn Katzenberg, Juan Ramon Law-Valdez, Chelsea Kane, Judith Light, Mary McCormack, Max Mutchnick & Erik Hyman, Melissa Peterman, Glen Powell, Cammie Scott, and more.

Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools across the United States, and their network of 39 community-led chapters in 26 states brings GLSEN’s expertise to local communities.

GLSEN‘s progress and impact have won support for inclusive schools at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools.

For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research, and educator training programs, please visit www.glsen.org.

Scroll through the playlist below to see our interviews from the event and make sure to let us know what you think of GLSEN by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sending us a tweet at @celebsecrets.

With reporting by Nona Melkonian

Written by Juliet Schroder

Juliet is the founder and executive producer/host of Celeb Secrets and Celeb Secrets Country. When not reporting on the latest news in pop culture and country music, she enjoys traveling, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the latest fashion trends.

Juliet holds a B.S. in marketing from St. John's University.