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Twitter honored by Trevor Project for helping give LGBTI youth a voice

Twitter honored by Trevor Project for helping give LGBTI youth a voice

A Twitter banner hangs outside the New York stock exchange

The Trevor Project has announced that it is to honor Twitter with its 20/20 Visionary Award at next week’s TrevorLIVE awards.

The TrevorLive is a semi-annual fundraising event for the LGBTI suicide prevention non-profit organization.

Other beneficiaries of awards – which will be presented 13 June at a ceremony at the Marriott Marquis in New York City – will include LGBTI youth advocate Cole Ray Davis, Jordan Roth and Richie Jackson.

The 20/20 Visionary Award is presented to a corporation that ‘publicly supports the LGBTQ community and works to advance an empowering future-focused message for LGBTQ young people and their allies nationwide.’

In a statement, Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project, said of the latest 20/20 recipient, ‘A leader in the ever-changing digital media landscape, Twitter has been a powerful social media tool for The Trevor Project to connect with LGBTQ youth.

‘Twitter’s democratic platform has made it possible for people to speak openly about LGBTQ issues and express messages of unity and love.

‘Most importantly, the company truly supports LGBTQ employees, from covering the cost of gender reassignment surgery, to taking a public stance on anti-LGBTQ legislature at both the state and federal levels. As a key ally in the fight for equality, they’ve helped turn a minority into the majority.’

Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Twitter, responded by saying, ‘We are honored to be recognized with The Trevor Project’s 20/20 Visionary Award.

‘Inclusion lives on our platform. Twitter empowers anyone to have a voice – of any race, gender, orientation, and identity – and diverse voices and communities engage on Twitter every day. This is what we stand for and we will continue to champion equality on our platform and around the world.’

Wanda Sykes at a previous TrevorLive ceremony
Wanda Sykes at a previous TrevorLive ceremony

Twitter has spoken out in the past in support of LGBTI rights and in support of equal marriage. Last year, it banned blood drives taking place in its US offices until the FDA revoked its ban on gay men donating blood.

The San Francisco-headquartered organization joined HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for the first time this year and scored the top ranking of 100, based on its LGBT-friendly policies and procedures.

News of the award comes just a couple of days after Twitter unveiled a new emoji for LGBT Pride season – a rainbow heart will appear in anyone uses the hashtags #LoveIsLove, #Pride2016 or #LoveWins.

Twitter’s 2016 Pride season emoji

Although applauded for its pro-LGBTI stance, Twitter has also been criticized as a platform susceptible to online bullying and trolling. However, responding to a request for comment on this, a spokesperson for Twitter pointed out that it has specific policies on hateful conduct. They also supplied us with a recent statement from Kira O’Connor, EMEA Head of Trust & Safety Outreach:

‘Hateful conduct has no place on the Twitter platform and is a violation of our terms of service,’ said O’Connor.

‘In addition to our policies and user controls, such as block, mute and our new multiple tweet reporting functionality, we work with civil society leaders and academic experts to understand the challenge that exists.

‘Our ambition, in tandem with addressing abusive behaviour, is to reach a position where we can leverage Twitter’s incredible capabilities to empower positive voices, to challenge prejudice and to tackle the deeper root causes of intolerance in society.’