Last night, my wife and I attended the 28th Annual Human Rights Awards Banquet hosted by the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club. Seven awards were presented to individuals and community organizations for their leadership on behalf of the human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of Long Beach.
Dianne and I were honored to sit at the table of one of the evening’s award winners, H. John Barry III, a charter member of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club. Also at the table were his sister and her husband, two nieces, a nephew, and friends. Mr. Barry won the Paul Self Lambda Service Award for his volunteerism and leadership for numerous LGBT organizations and causes.
Reading in the program that Mr. Barry was, in his youth, “a member of the 4H Club, a champion swimmer, and an Eagle Scout,” reminded me that many students go to school sometimes struggling with issues of personal identity related to financial class, culture, race, religion or sexuality. Sometimes these struggles are masked by students’ successes or, in other cases, by their objectionable behavior.
That is why I admire that among Long Beach Unified School District’s “Shared Values and Beliefs” are “Respect and Integrity”, which is defined by “mutual respect, trust and support,” and “Teamwork”, which requires that the “organization works collaboratively and creatively to ensure student success in a supportive environment.”
Whatever personal issues students bring with them through the school doors at sensitive and vulnerable ages, they need to feel they are respected and supported. An evening like last night affirms the importance of the school district’s “Vision” that with the support of parents and the school community, every student can become “a responsible, productive citizen in a diverse and competitive world.”
I commend Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club for honoring these outstanding leaders and volunteers. For more information about Lambda, visit: http://lblambdademocratic.org