The Alexandria Human Rights Commission has named Debra Luecretia Mason, president of T.C. Williams High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), the winner of the Commission’s seventh annual 2008 Student Human Rights Awards for her leadership role and promotion of equality for all regardless of sexuality.
The Commission established the Human Rights Awards seven years ago to recognize students who have contributed significantly toward improving basic human rights and fairness for all in the City.
On June 10, Mayor William D. Euille, members of the Alexandria City Council, and the Human Rights Commission recognized the students’ achievements publicly and the winner received a commemorative plaque and a cash award funded by the William D. Euille Foundation.
In April and May, officers of the Human Rights Commission contacted key administrators at T. C. Williams, Bishop Ireton, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, Alexandria Friends School, Episcopal and the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College to invite high school juniors and seniors, and first-year community college students, to apply for the awards. Students were required to submit an essay and supportive nomination showcasing the student’s or student group’s contributions toward promoting equality, respect and understanding for all persons regardless of race, color, culture, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
Luecretia has maintained the open and friendly environment of the GSA, “where everyone’s voice is heard and opinion matters.” She has taken the leadership opportunity “to help others to give them the strength to stand strong and fight for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights and equality.” Through the organization, individuals find support, acceptance and value. Her A.P. Language and Composition teacher describes Luecretia as someone who “is consistently pondering, analyzing, and evaluating.”
Fortunately for the students at T.C.Williams, this characteristic enabled her to accept the leadership role in the school organization that primarily promotes equality among the student body, uniting all sexualities and gender identities whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, (or) transgender.” Luecretia and GSA “teach people to not judge another’s character solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.” Luecretia’s lessons about tolerance and acceptance are valuable for all Alexandrians.