The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) presented the Community Leader of the Year Award to Matthew Shrader, Co-chair of Capital City Pride and student at South Puget Sound Community College.
GLSEN met for their 7th annual Awards and Auction Ceremony in Seattle to honor individuals who made a difference in bettering the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identified people over the past year.
The Manager of Student Programs at South Seattle Community College, Monica Lundberg, who worked with Shrader as the advisor for the coalition nominated Shrader for the award for his leadership role in the coalition that encompassed all Washington state’s 34 community and technical colleges. The coalition seeks to amend college registration forms to include LGBTQ demographic identifiers. The coalition asked Shrader to participate in the state LGBTQ student success task force to design these changes.
Kevin Jennings, former educator and school administrator, founded GLSEN in 1990 to help end discrimination, bullying, and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity, especially in K-12 schools. Since then, GLSEN has added more chapters and continues its work.
Shrader said he believes that winning this award may bring awareness to the larger community or make an impact for the LGBTQ community. According to Shrader the awareness, though slight, is important to all LGBTQ identified individuals, because it shows that people support their efforts for equity.
He hopes for the award, however, will inspire “young gay men in this community to step up and serve their community,” said Shrader.
He said it is important for all members of the LGBTQ community to work for more rights and services to which all are entitled.
Shrader said all of his work in the LGBTQ community is worthwhile and has been successful in implementing change, not just his work for the LGBTQ student success task force.
At school, working with the Queer Straight Alliance, Shrader helped establish several campus gender-neutral bathrooms.
According to David Rector, the dean of student life at SPSCC, Shrader is passionate about serving SPSCC students and takes the lead on any project he’s involved in as Student Senate Senator for Legislative Affairs.
Yvonne Umu, a student at SPSCC agrees, saying Matthew is very energetic in his endeavors.
Shrader takes pride especially in his work with Capital City Pride for which he co-chairs. Capital City Pride, whose motto is “Celebrate Community, Defend Equality,” started as a march and protest in 1991 and has grown to a two-day-long festival celebrating the LGBTQ community. While the event is now a celebration, Shrader still sees it as an activist movement to gain equal rights for all LGBTQ-identified people.
Shrader is the secretary for the Mpowerment advisory committee and the founder of the SPSCC LGBTQ and Ally scholarship where he leads scholarship fundraising.
With all of these roles, he said he hopes to have an impact creating a hospitable, friendly, and most importantly, safe environment for all LGBTQ-identified people.
Andrew Richardson, SPSCC student said he hopes, “the word gets out about Matthew’s win, because it will help spread the message of equality and tolerance to the people of our school, state, and hopefully one day, our entire country,” said Richardson.