Two Los Angeles teachers were among a half-dozen educators from across the state to receive annual California Teachers Association's Human Rights Awards for their dedication to social justice, and for promoting and protecting human and civil rights, it was announced Monday.
"These awards honor our tireless social justice warriors who do community work beyond their classrooms," said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. "Their activism is an inspiration to all educators."
Joel Laguna, a teacher at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Angeles, is the winner of the Human Rights Award for LGBTQ Advocacy. In his 10 years of service in the field of public education, Laguna "has exhibited a relentless dedication to working to support youth who identify as members of the LGBTQ2+ community," according to a CTA statement.
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At his campus, Laguna has facilitated ``ally weeks" and a "pink anti-bullying campaign" to support children in the LGBTQ2+ community and to foster support from their peers. He attends yearly trainings on LGBTQ2+ youth, and takes the information that he learns to lead trainings on competency with supporting students in the community, according to the CTA.
Laguna "also works with parents at his school, teaching them about the process of coming out for their children in order to best foster a loving and caring environment for children who courageously declare who they are," according to the CTA.
The other Los Angeles honoree is Erika Jones, a CTA board member who taught for 13 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District and "was instrumental in creating a Black Lives Matter curriculum in school trainings that has reached more than 3,000 educators nationwide, and even more students."
Jones served as a delegate to the CTA State Council of Education for five years and chaired the Council's Civil Rights in Education Committee. She was the only public school educator on the State Superintendent of Public Instruction's Charter Task Force, and her advocacy helped shape legislation "which significantly changes past practices in accountability for charter schools," according to the CTA.
The 310,000-member CTA presented the awards Saturday at its Equity and Human Rights Conference in Irvine.