News Sunshine State

Diversity Honors Returns May 13

Written by Agenda Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE–Diversity Honors, the annual event that spotlights those people who live their lives by advancing inclusiveness will be held this year at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2016. Honorees will include Peter Clark, publisher of Hotspots Media Group; Rae Franks, lawyer and LGBT advocate; Robert Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools; and Judge David Young. The annual Milk Foundation Milan Rosza Award will recognize Ryland Whittington.

“It is such a privilege to host this annual event where we come together to honor men and women who, in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the diversity of the human spirit, the values that define us as not only as the South Florida community, but as a nation, and the potential that lives inside of all of us,” said Stuart Milk, co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and global human rights advocate. “We are thrilled to join together again with The Pride Center and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to present this ongoing celebration of those who exemplify the best examples of authenticity, leadership and courage in our community.”

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, as the presenting sponsor, will again be the host site for Diversity Honors, which coincides with celebrations around the globe for Harvey Milk Day (May 22), an official state holiday in California that celebrates Milk’s enduring legacy of hope and example of courage. Guests at Diversity Honors will enjoy a lively cocktail reception with the North American premiere of the Levi’s® X Harvey Milk Foundation Pride 2016 Collection, a seated three-course dinner and live entertainment featuring Tony Award-winning actor/singer Levi Kreis. The awards presentation will be hosted by Omar Lewis, WSVN weekend morning news anchor, and will include Stuart Milk’s 2016 “State of the Global Equality” address.

The annual Milk Foundation Milan Rosza Award will recognize Ryland Whittington. Eight-year-old Ryland Whittington’s powerful, moving story, which has already touched more than eight million through a viral video created by the Whittington family, is transforming lives across the world via the family’s first-hand account of the emotional choice to simply embrace their transgender child. When Hillary and Jeff Whittington posted a YouTube video chronicling their five-year-old son Ryland’s transition from girl to boy, they didn’t expect it to be greeted with such fervor.

Ryland and his family will travel from the west coast to Florida at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to accept the award. “Harvey Milk is and has been the key inspiration for Ryland and for the family,” says, Ryland’s mother Hillary. “We are all so excited to be with the Harvey Milk Foundation, their partners and their supporters in May.”

In telling the family’s story, the Whittingtons hope to educate the world in accepting that even children as young as five can have profound and impactful things to say and share. Although Ryland has been featured on CNN, Ellen, 20/20 and in dozens of international news broadcasts on this powerful story of unconditional love, this May 13 will mark the second live appearance by Ryland and his family to participate in Diversity Honors.

“As a leading LGBT organization in South Florida, we salute the honorees and fully support the mission of the Harvey Milk Foundation,” said Robert Boo, chief executive officer at The Pride Center at Equality Park. “This event had a huge impact on our community last year so we are fully committed to another successful program.”

Last year, Diversity Honors raised more than $50,000 while paying tribute to Judy and Dennis Shepard, LGBT civil rights activists and co-founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, who received the Harvey Milk Honors Medal award. The event also recognized recording artist Deborah Cox, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Rand Hoch, celebrity entertainer Elaine Lancaster (James Davis), CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida Lillian Tamayo, 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Miami Judge William Thomas and Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis. Nationally recognized teen advocate, Jazz Jennings, received the Milk Foundation’s Milan Rosza Youth Award. Two lifetime achievement awards were presented to publisher Norm Kent and cabaret performer Joey Arias.

Tickets are $175 per person and available at www.DiversityHonors.com.

Photo Credit: etonline.com