Equality Virginia (EV) has named its 2012 OUTstanding Virginian honorees. These individuals represent Virginia’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community with distinction. Five awards are being given this year to honor individuals who have been out and active members of the community.
Sally Baird is the first out lesbian on the Arlington County School Board. As both a mother and an education advocate, Baird also served on the Arlington Public School’s Early Childhood Advisory Committee and in PTA leadership roles with her children’s elementary school.
Nicholas Benton started the Falls Church News Press, as well as the “Nicholas F. Benton Diversity Affirmation Education Fund” for the Falls Church City Public Schools. In addition to his lifelong work in journalism, Benton has also had several writings published on the gay rights movement, and GLBT activism.
Hugh Copeland is the founder of the Hurrah Players, a theatre education and performance organization in Norfolk Virginia. Through his work in the Hurrah Players, Copeland has not only shared the joy of performing with others, but has also helped teach tolerance, acceptance, and pride to his students and the community.
Jean Elliott founded Gay in Appalachia at Virginia Tech, an annual program designed to highlight GLBT writers and filmmakers. Elliott is a noted advocate of diversity, even beyond U.S. borders with her work in Zambia and Malawi. She was also recently honored with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Diversity award at Virginia Tech.
Edward Strickler is a committed and involved grass roots activist in Charlottesville. He has been active in several GLBT, health, and HIV organizations, such as the Virginia HIV Community Planning Committee, Virginia Antiviolence Project, the Virginia Human Rights Council, and the Diocese of Virginia Committee on HIV/AIDS.
The 2012 OUTstanding Virginians will be honored at the ninth annual Commonwealth Dinner held on Saturday, April 14, 2012. In addition to honoring our 2012 OUTstanding Virginians, guest speakers; Dot-Marie Jones, also known as Coach Beiste of the hit television show Glee, and David McFarland, Interim Executive Director of The Trevor Project, will attend to highlight the importance of building safe schools and help to increase awareness of EV’s safe school work.