University recognized with award for work with LGBTQ community

On Nov. 12, PFLAG Cleveland (Parents, Friends, Families & Allies United with LGBTQ People to Move Equality Forward) awarded Baldwin Wallace University with the 2019 Bruce G. Kriete  Community Award.

The annual Bruce G. Kriete award is given to an individual or organization in the community that advocates for the “acceptance or understanding of Northeast Ohio’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens, and their families and friends.”

The award named after Bruce G. Kriete, a former board member of PFLAG Cleveland, in honor of his positive impact on the organization. Dr. Sharon Groh-Wargo, vice president of PFLAG, said the award is given to “an individual or group that stepped out of their lane and [was put in] a difficult position.”

Following the disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church this past Spring, PFLAG Cleveland noticed the leadership in promoting diversity across BW’s community and around the world, said Tom Falcone, president of PFLAG.

Frank Groh-Wargo, husband of Dr. Sharon Groh-Wargo and supporter of PFLAG, noted how some religious groups tend to be unaccepting of LGBTQ members. He said with BW becoming an independent university, BW has taken steps in the right direction.

President Helmer gladly accepted the award on behalf of BW and the Board of Trustees, saying the goal of ending the affiliation and becoming independent is that “we are able to live out diversity and inclusion to its fullest.”

On the same night of the award ceremony, the BW Conservatory of Music invited high school Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) members and other LGBTQ-focused youth group members and their families to the final dress rehearsal for the nation’s first academic production of Kinky Boots.

“We went to see Kinky Boots at BW yesterday and it was incredible,” said Midview GSA’s twitter post. “We met a lot of other amazing people in GSA clubs as well. Thanks for letting us be a part of your audience!”