Equality Florida, the state’s leading LGBTQ rights group, on Saturday night presented its annual Voice For Equality award to Emma González and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Gay-Straight Alliance.
“The students of MSD who are here tonight along with myself would very much appreciate it if we could start out with a moment of silence for both the shooting at our school and for [Orlando nightclub] Pulse,” GSA President González said as she accepted the award, joined at the presentation by fellow alliance students and faculty members.
“We lost 14 classmates, three faculty members and there were plenty of individuals who were injured and are still in the hospital due to the havoc wreaked on Valentine’s Day in a period of six minutes,” she said. “It’s important that we remember these individuals when we fight for gun safety and gun control as well as all other individuals affected by gun violence in America.
“The MSD students who are here tonight are very thankful and humbled that our GSA, its sponsors and outspoken members of the club are being honored by Equality Florida,” said González, the 18-year-old bisexual senior at Stoneman Douglas, who in the weeks since the school shooting has acquired more than 1.2 million Twitter followers. “Many of the members of our GSA this year have for the first time found a place where they can be themselves freely, can experiment with names and labels and learning about a culture that is widely ignored in textbooks and curriculum.”
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“It is for us a combination of the oppression faced in the LGBT Plus community, being students who are told to listen rather than to speak, the unsatisfyingly short periods of time in which we are allowed to be our true selves, and a million other reasons that have contributed to us jamming our feet into the door of the media and refusing to stand back in this time of senseless tragedy,” she said. “Now that we know we have the power to call B.S., nothing can stand in our way of using it.”
Also honored on Saturday at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Hotel fundraiser: Miami-based LGBTQ-rights group SAVE with Equality Florida’s Community Partner for Equality Award; and H. Scott Huizenga & The Huizenga Family Foundation with Equality Florida’s Service and Leadership award.
The program, emceed by WTVJ Channel 6 reporter Jamie Guirola, included remarks from Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith, SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima and Scott Huizenga, whose family foundation has contributed $75,000 to Equality Florida for its Safe and Healthy Schools program. “The fruits of my father’s hard work that make that possible and I thank him, as well,” said Huizenga, son of Broward businessman and philanthropist H. Wayne Huizenga.