Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Lady and wife of the Vice President, delivered the opening remarks at the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network's Sixth Annual Respect Awards in New York City. In "an appearance marking the first time someone from the presidential or vice presidential area of the Obama-Biden administration addressed a gay organization", Biden recognized LGBT Pride Month and expressed the Administration's "commitment" to fighting bullying and making schools safe for all students, including LGBT youth.
Biden received a standing ovation from the audience, which included Sirdeaner Walker, the mother of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old Massachusetts boy who took his own life in April after months of relentless anti-gay bullying.
Biden recalled her firsthand experience witnessing harassment and bullying as an educator for 28 years. "As an English teacher, I’ve read my students’ personal journals and heard their intimate conversations about their pain and their anxiety. How can we expect kids to learn when they are taunted by their classmates? How can we ask them to do their best work?”
The Second Lady also told the group that GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings is joining the Obama Administration as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education. Jennings will head the safe and drug-free schools program. The right-wing is already opposed to Jennings' nomination.