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YouTube personality Connor Franta took the stage at the 2015 GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles, an event that also welcomed such Hollywood stars as Julia Roberts, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, J.J. Abrams and Zachary Quinto — and presented the Student Advocate of the Year Award to teen Mars Hallman.
It was a touching moment inside the Beverly Wilshire ballroom and one that would result in a standing ovation for Hallman. Franta will be back at the big event this year, scheduled for the same location in Beverly Hills on Oct. 21, with an opportunity to garner a round of applause just for him as the 23-year-old has just been selected to receive a GLSEN prize.
The announcement from GLSEN, a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students, marks the first reveal of the 2016 honorees for this year’s Respect Awards, which were introduced in 2004 and held annually in L.A. and New York. The awards events “showcase the work of students, educators, individuals and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth,” according to GLSEN.
Franta has been singled out for his commitment to youth welfare and LGBTQ advocacy. Through his online presence (he has 5.6 million subscribers on YouTube) that touches millions of youth, he has elevated GLSEN programs such as GLSEN’s Day of Silence, and is collaborating with the organization on a charitable campaign in partnership with his Common Culture lifestyle brand. His “Coming Out” video, posted in December 2014, has garnered more than 11.1 million views to date.
Past honorees Matt Bomer and husband Simon Halls, Bob Greenblatt, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak, and Julia Roberts and Danny Moder will return as honorary co-chairs for the event. Sponsors of the 2016 GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles include presenting sponsors Wells Fargo, Target and the Walt Disney Company.
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