When Superintendent Tom Ahart was asked to host the inaugural Capital City Pride Gala last Friday night, he didn’t realize there was a surprise in store for him. When it came time to announce the awards, Dr. Ahart was named the Pride Ally of the Year, recognizing his leadership in supporting and serving the district’s diverse population of students.
“Students have enough to do to prepare themselves for the next stage of their development, for the next steps in their life journeys. They should not be in a position to have to advocate for themselves at school, but should know they can count on the support of the adults in their lives and in their schools,” said Ahart. “It’s important to me that each student feels engaged, feels a genuine sense of belonging, and is allowed and encouraged to thrive at school. As school leaders, we need to make that known explicitly so they can focus on their social development and academic advancement.”
The Capital City Pride Ally of the Year award is given to individuals who have been a leader of equality and inclusion to the LGBTQ community. The award is based on LGBTQ community support, participation, service, and sponsorship.
“This recognition has more to do with our school board and myself being aligned and focused, especially on issues relating to equity,” added Ahart. “Whether its LGBTQ, race, nationality, language, creed, religion, or immigration status, it is core to our mission to provide a supportive, inclusive learning environment and experience for all students.”
The school district has worked to support and advocate on behalf of the diverse populations that make up the Des Moines community. This has ranged from an equity statement that the district does not discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity to providing proper access to facilities for transgender students and staff to supporting students who responded to an anti-gay hate group protest by holding a “love rally” (pictured above). Read more about the equity work at DMPS.
Founded in 1978, Capital City Pride has brought together the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community their friends, allies, and supporters. The organization holds events that inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate the diverse community and culture with and for the greater Des Moines Metro. Other individuals, organization and businesses honored at the event included:
- 2018 Pride Man of the Year – Nate Monson, Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools
- 2018 Pride Woman of the Year – Liz Bennett, Iowa House of Representative for District 65
- 2018 Pride Ally of the Year – Debbie Griffin, Senior Minister of Downtown Disciples
- 2018 Pride Ally of the Year – Scott Heldt, Director of Development & Communications at Iowa Safe Schools
- 2018 Most Active Volunteer – Mark Turnage, Registrar at Iowa Safe Schools
- 2018 Best Event, PR, and Communications – One Iowa
- 2018 Company Diversity and Inclusion – Iowa Safe Schools
- 2018 Pride Company Ally – Wellmark
- 2018 Pride Company Ally – Meredith Corporation
- 2018 Pride Company Ally – Bankers Trust