DETROIT -- The National Education Association will present American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan LGBT Project Staff Attorney with the Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights at its Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner tonight in New Orleans. The award is presented to a nominee whose activities in human rights significantly impact education and the achievement of equal opportunity for those facing sexual orientation discrimination.

“It is such a tremendous honor to receive this award from the NEA,” said Jay Kaplan. “It’s important that educators and students recognize the unique challenges facing LGBT students today. I’m proud of the ACLU’s work to raise awareness and defend the rights of students. “

Kaplan joined the ACLU as the LGBT Project’s staff attorney at its inception in 2001. He has spent his entire legal career working for the benefit of others in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and has been involved in many high profile issues such as marriage equality, second parent adoption and domestic partner benefits in Michigan. Prior to the ACLU, Kaplan worked for 13 years at the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, Inc., a disability rights agency. He founded the HIV/AIDS Advocacy Program at MPAS, and served as staff attorney for 7 years. Kaplan is a graduate of Wayne State Law School.

“We are so incredibly proud of Jay. His commitment to LGBT equality is paramount,” said Mary Bejian, ACLU of Michigan Deputy Director. “He has always stood up for the underrepresented, the underserved and the voiceless. He serves as an extraordinary example of kindness and selflessness.”

Since developing the first of its kind committee to address issues facing lesbians and gay men in 1966, the ACLU of Michigan continues to fight for full civil rights and equality for LGBT people in our state. The ACLU nationally has marked more than 70 years of important legal victories and in 2001, the ACLU of Michigan became one of three ACLU affiliates to boast a legal and advocacy project devoted specifically to LGBT issues. The ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project challenges discrimination in the courts and legislatures -- case by case, law by law -- to change antigay policies.

Virginia Uribe is a high school teacher and counselor and a leader in the movement to improve the lives of gay and lesbian youth. In 1984, she founded California's Project 10, the first school-based dropout prevention program for students facing sexual orientation discrimination and harassment.