For years, Facebook has been working hard to scrub anti-gay bullying from its users’ pages, and those efforts have not gone unnoticed. Today, we learn that the social network is being honored with a GLAAD award for its contributions to the LGBT community.
“Facebook will receive a Special Recognition Award at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards… for the company’s strong stand and leadership around bullying prevention as well as its inclusive options for LGBT users,” reads a statement from GLAAD.
Two Facebook employees involved in the company’s LGBT work will accept the award, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will appear in a taped thank-you message.
“After violent anti-gay images and comments were posted on a memorial page for LGBT youth, Facebook worked with GLAAD to monitor the highly visible page and launched, in conjunction with several LGBT organizations, the Network of Support,” the release notes.
The Network of Support is a very visible group that serves Facebook in a consulting capacity and includes organizations such as GLAAD, GLSEN, HRC, PFLAG, and the Trevor Project. The groups work together to monitor and stamp out hate speech, which Facebook prohibits but which users often carry out, both publicly and privately, in attempts to harass and intimidate gay youth.
Since the Network of Support was started in 2010, Facebook has taken many other steps to affirm its support of LGBT users. In 2011, the site started offering gay-friendly relationship options such as “in a domestic partnership” and “in a civil union.”
And in 2011, the social network launched the Stop Bullying: Speak Up social pledge, a Facebook app that helps teachers, students, and parents make personal commitments to put an end to bullying. In October, Facebook worked with Time Warner and CNN on an Anderson Cooper 360° Town Hall special about anti-gay bullying.
The company also started celebrating Spirit Day, an event created in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan. The day is recognized by corporations, media, schools and individuals around the world who “go purple” with their online avatars and their clothing in real life “to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.”
McMillan will be presenting the award to Facebookers at GLAAD’s gala event June 2, 2012, in San Francisco, Calif. Other honorees include Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes and Wells Fargo. Dianna Agron from Glee will MC the event, and the awards ceremony will feature performances from Cirque du Soleil and Beverly McClellan, the Janis-Joplin-meets-Melissa-Etheridge powerhouse from The Voice.