Last night, I posted a brief blog about Joel Burns being recognized for his anti-bullying efforts by Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, but I didn’t have many details. Now, here are some details for you.
Moncrief presented Burns with the 8th annual “Believing in Youth Award” Thursday night during the Believing in Youth Award Dinner, an event that benefited Santa Fe Youth Services. According to a press release from Moncrief’s office, the award “honors those who take personal responsibility for being a role model and building resiliency in our young people through formal and informal, intentional and unintentional efforts.”
Santa Fe Youth Services is a nonprofit agency that has provided services to youth and families in Tarrant County for more than 10 years.
Burns was chosen as the recipient in recognition of his efforts to combat bullying that gained national attention last October when he delivered an impromptu “It Gets Better” message to LGBT youth during a City Council meeting. Burns, in an emotional address that left many in the council chambers in tears, spoke of his own experience as a gay teen bullied by classmates and how he even contemplated suicide at one point, and how his life has gotten exponentially better in the years since.
A video of his speech went viral on YouTube and within days, the gay Fort Worth council member had been invited to speak on numerous TV shows, including The Today Show and Ellen. In December he went to Austin for a press conference announcing the introduction of anti-bullying bills in the Texas Legislature, and he returned to Austin in March for LGBT Lobby Day to call once again for the legislation to be passed.
Also in March, Burns was invited to attend an anti-bullying summit presented by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
Last month, Burns received a GLAAD Media Award for his efforts.