LOS ANGELES – The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU/SC) announced today that its deputy executive director James Gilliam will be honored by KCET and Union Bank as part of an inaugural class of  ‘Local Heroes’ in celebration of LGBT Pride month.  The Local Heroes Awards recognize the recipients’ leadership and contributions in shaping the neighborhoods in which they work and live and will be presented Thursday, June 9, 2011 at KCET in Los Angeles. 

Gilliam directs the ACLU/SC’s LGBT Project and is leading its efforts to curb bullying and harassment in schools.  He oversees the organization’s investigations into reported cases of anti-gay harassment and bullying and has been advocating in support of strong anti-bullying legislation at the state and local levels.  His recent focus includes ensuring that schools are not blocking improperly students’ access to websites that provide positive, affirming content about the LGBT community.

“I am humbled to be included in the first group of individuals to be honored as Southern California’s ‘Local Heroes’ for LGBT Pride Month,” said Gilliam.  “Had someone told me thirty years ago when I was being bullied as a gay teenager in a small town in Middle Tennessee that one day it would be my job to hold schools accountable for allowing such behavior to occur, I never could have believed it.”

Gilliam has a B.S. in sociology/social welfare policy from Middle Tennessee State University where he graduated in 2000 as valedictorian of his class.  He obtained his J.D. from Loyola Law School in 2003, Order of the Coif.  He has served as Co-Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Sexual Orientation Bias Committee for the past six years, and in 2010 the National LGBT Bar Association named him one of the Best LGBT Attorneys Under 40.  He teaches seminars in public interest law practice and sexual orientation and the law at Loyola Law School.  Before attending law school, he directed the nonprofit organization in Nashville, TN that produced that community’s annual LGBT Pride Parade and Festival.

“We’re extremely proud of James and all the vital work he’s doing to advance the rights of the LGBT community,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.  “He’s continuing the ACLU/SC’s long history to ensure full rights to everyone.”
Union Bank and KCET created the Local Heroes Awards to help celebrate the national commemorative heritage months for various communities throughout Los Angeles.  The awards honor outstanding individuals who strive to enrich the lives of others.  This year, the Local Heroes Awards were expanded to recognize honorees as part of LGBT Pride Month.

Throughout the month of June, KCET will also air a video profile of each honoree that highlights how they made a difference in their community.

Major funding for the LGBT Pride Month Local Heroes Awards is generously provided by Union Bank. Additional funding is provided The David Geffen Foundation, The David Bohnett Foundation, and Edison International. 

View a video profile of James Gilliam