EQUALITY FLORIDA TO HONOR LISA LA MONICA AT ANNUAL GALA;
ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
PUBLIC SCHOOLS, TO PRESENT AWARD
Sunday, March 12 at Nobu Hotel Eden Roc
Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, will present LGBT Youth Advocate Lisa La Monica with Equality Florida’s Voice for Equality Award at the organization’s Annual Miami Gala on Sunday, March 12. The Voice for Equality Award is bestowed annually upon a person who, with courage, passion and unwavering commitment, moves Florida’s LGBTQ community closer to full equality. The event takes place at 6:30 pm at the Nobu Hotel Eden Roc, 4525 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools is a longtime pioneer in the work to make schools safe and welcoming for LGBTQ students, and was the first school district in Florida to ban bullying based on sexual orientation in the early ‘90s. Today the school system is recognized as a national leader and is implementing some of the most innovative and comprehensive programs for supporting this highly vulnerable group of students.
As superintendent since 2008, Carvalho has been recognized by his peers for his leadership. He was selected as Florida’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year, as well as the 2014 National Superintendent of the Year; was named by Scholastic Administrator as one of “The Fantastic Five” educators making a difference in America; and is the 2016 winner of the 2016 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, as well as the Magnet Schools of America 2016 Superintendent of the Year.
"The visible, outspoken leadership of the superintendent is a critical element to ensuring all schools address the needs of LGBTQ students and we are thrilled that Superintendent Carvalho will be with us to celebrate a member of his team and the great progress his district is making," said Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director and Co-Founder.
Through the Miami Dade S.A.F.E. network, the district aims to have a trained staff member at every elementary, middle, and high school who is the on-site resource for programs and support for LGBTQ youth. The districts bullying and harassment policies have long included protections for gay and transgender students. Nearly all high schools and a growing number of middle schools have Gay Straight Alliances.
“For nearly three decades, Lisa has been devoted to ensuring that LGBT students feel safe in the school setting,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “Through her leadership and determination, she has inspired students, educators and families, and we are so proud to recognize her for this well deserved honor.”
Lisa began her career as an educator nearly 40 years ago. In 1994 she answered the call to Miami-Dade educators interested in supporting LGBTQ youth. Working in tandem with Safe Schools South Florida, where she currently serves on the board of directors, Lisa’s Youth Speaker training and Youth Support programs have made enormous contributions to the well-being of LGBTQ youth and the life-affirming work of Safe Schools South Florida.
As a school counselor and S.A.F.E Liaison (School Ally for Equity - Honoring diverse orientations and genders), Lisa facilitates in-school weekly support groups for LGBTQ students, serves as a Gay Straight Alliance sponsor, supports and educates parents, and responds to crises as faced by this high-risk population.
Lisa is the co-creator of Living Rainbow, a student-driven sociodrama troupe formed in 2010 in response to the tragic increase in LGBTQ youth suicide across the nation. Living Rainbow performs for school counselors, psychologists, social workers, faculty members and administrators, parents, youth and community organizations, inspiring those responsible for youth welfare to be even more dedicated and vigilant. Living Rainbow will do a short presentation at the Gala.
Working on behalf of LGBTQ youth on the local, state and national levels, she is a member of the National Safe Schools Roundtable, a contributor and participant in the Stonewall National Educational Project and a steering and programming team member of All Together Now, a statewide initiative to provide and develop LGBTQ youth safety and inclusion policies in all school districts across Florida.
Last year Equality Florida launched its Safe and Healthy Schools Program, following the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which found that LGBTQ youth continue to face deeply disturbing and even life threatening challenges.
“Lisa is an integral part of Equality Florida’s Safe and Healthy Schools Program,” added Smith, “She is on the front lines, witnessing firsthand the daily challenges faced by LGBTQ youth.”
The CDC study showed that in 2015, more than 40% of LGB students have seriously considered suicide, and 29% reported having attempted suicide during the past 12 months. Sixty percent report having been so sad or hopeless that they stopped doing some of their usual activities, and more than 1 in 10 reported missing school in the past 30 days due to safety concerns.
The Miami Beach Gala includes sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and live music. One of the highlights of the evening is the State of the State Address presented by Nadine Smith, in which she will present the landmark achievements of the past year and outline the work that is yet to be done.
The Equality Florida Miami Gala, presented by PNC Bank, takes place on Sunday, March 12 from 6:30 – 8:30pm at the Nobu Hotel Eden Roc, 4525 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. Tickets are $150 and may be purchased online at www.eqfl.org/miamigala, or call (813) 870-3735.