Idina Menzel, Justin David Sullivan & Freedom to Learn honored at 2023 GLSEN Respect Awards New York

Monday night in New York saw the annual Respect Awards return to the city, raising funds and awareness for GLSEN, the leading national education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools for LGBTQ+ youth. This year’s GLSEN honorees included Tony-Award winning singer, actress, and songwriter Idina Menzel; non-binary Broadway singer, actor, and artist Justin David Sullivan; Freedom to Learn, a network of organizations, academics, artists, advocates and policy-makers addressing structural inequality; and student Daniel Hadi. Menzel received the organization’s Ally Award, Sullivan received the Game Changer Award, Hadi received the Student Advocate of the Year Award; and Freedom to Learn was honored with the Movement Builder Award.

GLSEN Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers is introduced to the stage by host Kalen Allen at the 2023 GLSEN Respect Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 15, 2023 in New York City. Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for GLSEN.

“At a time when LGBTQ+ youth are under attack from extremist legislators, GLSEN is proud to honor incredible activists, allies, and students who rise up for LGBTQ+ youth every day. We’re thankful for all of our honorees, presenters, attendees, and sponsors for making the Respect Awards such a huge success. We’re grateful to work alongside so many incredible leaders, and together, we’re going to continue to fight back against hateful rhetoric and attempts to dismantle our rights”, said GLSEN Executive Director, Melanie Willingham-Jaggers.

Jeremy Jordan performed a mashup up of Defying Gravity and Let It Go in tribute to GLSEN honoree Idina Menzel at the 2023 GLSEN Respect Awards in New York. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for GLSEN.

Hosted by Kalen Allen, the event featured a performance by Jeremy Jordan who sang a mashup of “Let it Go,” “Defying Gravity” in tribute to GLSEN honoree Idina Menzel, followed by “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. There were words of encouragement and support for LGBTQ+ youth from the night’s presenters including Chasten Buttigieg and Dominique Jackson. Jelani Alladin, Marti Cummings, Imara Jones, Travis Shumake, Oklahoma Representative Mauree Turner were among the guests, along with the cast of Broadway’s & Juliet including Philippe Arroyo, Michael Ivan Carrier, Bobby “Pocket” Horner, Joomin Hwang, Megan Kane, Brittany Nicholas, Veronica Otim, Jasmine Rafael, Matt Raffy, Tiernan Tunnicliffe, and Ben Jackson Walker.

Dominique Jackson and Imara Jones a the 2023 GLSEN Respect Awards in New York City. Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for GLSEN.

The GLSEN Respect Awards, introduced in 2004 and held annually in Los Angeles and New York, showcase 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. Chasten Buttigieg, Dominique Jackson, Billy Porter, and Lena Waithe served as honorary co-chairs. The annual awards ceremony was presented by T-Mobile and held at Cipriani 42nd Street. Additional sponsors for the evening included: Hollister, Wells Fargo, Target, Ulta Beauty, NBA and WNBA, BMW and Nickelodeon. 

GLSEN honoree Idina Menzel with GLSEN GSA members at the 2023 GLSEN Respect Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 15th, 2023 in New York City. Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for GLSEN.

For nearly three decades, GLSEN has led the way on LGBTQ+ issues in K-12 education through ground-breaking original research, innovative program development, educator training, student organizing, and targeted state and federal advocacy. With the development of educational resources, direct engagement of youth and educators, and GLSEN national programs like Rise Up, Day of Silence,Solidarity Week, and Changing the Game, GLSEN has seen the impact of its work in measurable improvements in the lives of LGBTQ+ students in the U.S.

Find out more and support GLSEN at

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