Equality California will honor Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Palm Springs City Councilmember Ginny Foat and Raymond Cree Middle School for their leadership in the fight to advance LGBT civil rights and social justice at its annual Palm Springs Equality Awards on Saturday.

Waters will receive this year’s Geoff Kors Leadership Award, given to individuals who have had a national impact in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights and social justice. Waters has been a powerful voice for the civil rights of LGBTQ and all Americans for more than three decades, and is one of the Trump Administration’s most vocal critics in Congress and in the broader community. Waters serves as ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, which is responsible for oversight of our nation’s housing market, the financial regulatory agencies, banks and financial intuitions and Wall Street. She is the first woman and the first African-American of either party to serve as the senior member of this powerful committee.

US House of Representatives
Maxine Waters

“Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been an outspoken foe of discrimination and injustice for more than 40 years,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “From fighting apartheid to opposing the Iraq War to supporting LGBTQ civil rights, she has always been one of the most courageous voices in Congress.”

Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Ginny Foat will receive Equality California’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is a nationally prominent advocate for the civil rights of women and LGBTQ people and has served on four organizing committees for national marches for women’s and LGBTQ civil rights. She also has had a distinguished career in the non-profit sector, teaching non-profit management and serving as executive director of Legal Advocates for Women, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Caring for Babies with AIDS, chair of the Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Commission and National Director of Regional Services for the YWCA of the USA. For the past five years, she has served as the executive director of the Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs. In 2014, she also served as interim executive director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert.

“Ginny Foat has served her local community for more than a decade as a city council member, and has served the LGBTQ community for decades longer,” said Zbur. “She has championed the rights of women, of LGBTQ people, of children and of all marginalized communities since the 1970s and has worked hard to strengthen the organizations that serve our community.”

Palm Springs City Council
Ginny Foat

Raymond Cree Middle School will receive this year’s Equality for All Award. Research has shown that when schools implement LGBTQ curricula and programs, it reduces bullying of LGBTQ kids and improves academic success rates for all students. The bill establishing Harvey Milk Day in California, sponsored by EQCA, was passed by the California legislature in 2009. The goal was to acknowledge the tremendous contributions Harvey Milk made to California and to encourage school districts and others to commemorate the day and use it as a means to teach LGBTQ history. Raymond Cree Middle School embraced the new holiday, holding its first special day of celebration in 2016 and creating classroom lessons and a concert to promote diversity and inclusion.

“Administrators, teachers, parents and students at Raymond Cree didn’t wait for state law to tell them to give LGBTQ students a safe, supportive place to learn,” said Zbur. “They took it on themselves, turning Harvey Milk Day into an annual celebration of diversity and inclusion. In doing so, they embraced LGBTQ students, staff and faculty members and made their school an example of LGBTQ inclusion and acceptance.”

The Palm Springs Equality Awards will be co-chaired by Palm Springs City Councilmember and former Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors, his husband, Palm Springs Unified School Board Member and Equality California Board Member James Williamson, Riverside County Board of Education President Elizabeth Romero and Jackie Lopez from the office of Congressman Raúl Ruiz.

Each year, Equality California recognizes individuals and organizations who have made an impact on the movement to secure full and lasting equality for LGBTQ people at its annual Equality Awards — a series of formal events held in San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.

This year’s Palm Springs Equality Awards will take place on Saturday from 5:30 to 11:00 p.m. at the Riviera Palm Springs, located at 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive. Individual tickets are $275 and up, with event sponsorships opportunities beginning at $4,000. For more information about the Equality Awards, visit www.eqcaawards.com. For tickets or sponsorship information, contact Scott Gizicki at scott@eqca.org or by calling (323) 848-9801.

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