It’s significant that “we are at a point in our culture in this city that we’re celebrating the very things Daniel Dromm was persecuted for,” teacher Cory Coleman said at the second annual Daniel Dromm Scholarship Brunch at UFT headquarters in Manhattan on June 1.
The brunch kicked off Pride Month and honored members of the LGBTQ community past and present.
Coleman, an 8th-grade teacher and chapter leader at Robert F. Wagner MS in Manhattan, lauded Dromm, a former teacher and current chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee, for his advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
Dromm is a “fitting hero” for the cause, said Rashad Brown, the UFT Pride Committee chair and a chapter advocate. Brown said Dromm faced severe challenges as an openly gay teacher, but “the UFT stood behind him to make sure his rights were not violated.”
The committee honored three activists from different areas of the LGBTQ community, including Alan Reiff, a teacher at MS 424 in Hunts Point, the Bronx, who received the inaugural Daniel Dromm Educator’s Award for his activism as a proud UFT member and LGBTQ advocate. Five high school seniors received $1,000 Daniel Dromm Scholarships for being exemplary scholars and LGBTQ student activists.
Allessia Quintana, a social studies teacher at New Dorp HS on Staten Island, nominated her student, Michael Gatti, for the scholarship and joined him in celebrating his achievement. As the school’s student union president and an active member of its Gay Straight Alliance, Gatti is a “charismatic, elegant speaker” and “a well-rounded, kind-hearted, sensitive student,” Quintana said, but his best quality, she added, is humility.
Maggie Joyce and Ashley Reyes of PS 35 in the Bronx believe it’s important to teach acceptance at a young age. “It’s our responsibility to start somewhere,” said Reyes, a 1st-grade special education teacher. “Everyone has to be accepted for who they are,” added Joyce, the school’s chapter leader.
Reyes said seeing the UFT recognize LGBTQ students was inspiring. “The UFT does much more than advocating for teachers,” she said.
“LGBTQ rights,” said committee chair Brown, “are civil rights and human rights.”