U of T to give awards for sexual diversity promotion

TORONTO, ON – The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, located at University College, University of Toronto, is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2011 Bonham Centre Awards: Linda Schuyler, co-creator and producer of the Degrassi television series, and Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award-winning screenwriter for the 2008 movie Milk.

The awards will be presented at a reception to be held on September 27th, 2011, at Croft Chapter House, University College, 15 Kings College Circle, Toronto, at 4:30 p.m.

The Bonham Centre Award (formerly the Citizenship Award) was established by the Bonham Centre in 2007 to recognize an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the advancement of issues surrounding sexual education.  Past award recipients have included filmmaker John Greyson, lawyer Barbara Findlay, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and renowned sexual educator and counsellor Sue Johanson.

“Linda Schuyler and Dustin Lance Black capture the very essence of the Bonham Centre Award. Their visionary cultural works have created broader perspectives around issues of sex, sexuality and sexual diversity in the public sphere,” says Brenda Cossman, Director of the Bonham Centre.

Linda Schuyler, who is a graduate of the University of Toronto and began her career as a teacher,  is best known for co-creating and executive producing the multi-award winning Degrassi television franchise, comprised of The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, School’s Out, Degrassi Talks and Degrassi: The Next Generation, now known simply as Degrassi. This franchise has won 20 Gemini Awards, two International Emmys, two Prix Jeunesses, two Teen Choice Awards, the Critics’ Choice Award and countless other international honours. The Degrassi series has from its inception portrayed teen life in a diversified and inclusive context with many storylines that challenged and educated its audience around issues of sexual diversity and identity, and tackled such difficult issues as domestic violence, teen pregnancy, pedophilia, adoption, religion, divorce, bullying, drug use, suicide, sexual assault, abortion, and mental health.  Linda has received numerous personal recognitions for her accomplishments, including the Academy Achievement Award at 2010’s Gemini Awards, the 2006 CTV International Achievement Award, and in 1994, in recognition of her contribution to Canadian television programming, Schuyler was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.

Dustin Lance Black is an American screenwriter, director, film and television producer, and LGBT rights activist. In 2000, he wrote and directed The Journey of Jared Price, a gay romance film, and Something Close to Heaven, a gay coming-of-age short film. In 2001, he directed and was a subject in the documentary On the Bus about a road trip and adventure taken by six gay men. Raised as Mormon, he was hired as the only such writer on the HBO drama series Big Love about a polygamist family.  Dustin has been active in speaking out about discrimination in the Mormon Church and making it more LGBT-inclusive.  Having witnessed the AIDS crisis in the early 1990s, Dustin felt compelled to write a movie screenplay based on the life of San Francisco city councillor Harvey Milk, an effort that resulted in his Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in the 2008 movie Milk.  In all of these and many other endeavours, Dustin Lance Black has excelled at educating and inspiring a young generation to become activists in a grassroots way around issues of sexual diversity.  He has received much personal recognition for his outstanding achievements, including the Writers Guild of America’s Paul Selwin Civil Rights Award in 2009 to the member whose script best embodies the spirit of constitutional and civil rights and liberties.

The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies (SDS) at University College, University of Toronto offers an undergraduate program and a collaborative graduate program (M.A. and Ph.D.), hosts academic and community events, and promotes research into sexuality. Created in 1998, the SDS program has established itself as one of the premier programs and centres in the world forging connections among faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, and community members interested in questions about how we understand sexual diversity and sexual practices in society.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:  visit www.utoronto.ca/sexualdiversity , or call 416-978-6276

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Press inquiries:

Christine Elias
Faculty of Arts & Science
416-946-5499

Wendy Koslow
Bonham Centre
416-978-6276

or

sexual.diversity@utoronto.ca

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