New York, NY -- The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network announced March 22 a special event to be held on April 11 in New York featuring actress Natalie Ross of soap opera "All My Children."
Ross plays Enid, the character who has been the nemesis of gay teacher Michael Delaney (played by actor Chris Bruno) in an ongoing "All My Children" story line based on the real-life story of GLSTN/St. Louis Co-Chair Rodney Wilson.
Following the Delaney character's "coming out" as part of a history lesson, Ross's character has mounted a vitriolic public campaign which has led to a shooting and a lawsuit, among other nefarious activities, and has embroiled the entire "All My Children" community of Pine Valley in an uproar. The story line has won "All My Children" numerous awards, including an achievement award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Ross first contacted GLSTN in December when the role she was being called upon to play caused her to realize how widespread the issue of homophobia is in America's schools.
"I was horrified by the type of character I was being asked to play, and even more horrified when I learned that the story line was not fiction but actually a basically true story," Ross said. "I wanted to do something to both make the situation better and also to let people know that Enid isn't the real me!"
Ross, a fifteen-year veteran of "All My Children", added, "I've often played evil characters, but this role touched me in a special way. I began to really think about the problems that gay kids in school must face and the damage that homophobia can do to them. I wanted to speak out against that. I think both gay and straight people need to unite to make our schools safe and supportive places for all people. I'm glad to be able to make a contribution to that fight." Ross concluded, "I want people to know that I'm not a real homophobe -- I just play one on TV!"
GLSTN National Board member Anne Gable, who will co-host the event along with long-time GLSTN supporter Ann Northrop, spoke highly of Ross's commitment. "It's great when actors make the connection between what they portray on-screen and what's happening in the real world. I hope Natalie's example will inspire more actors to get involved in the struggle to create safe schools for all students."
With over thirty chapters, and a membership of over three thousand teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN) is the largest national organization working to insure that schools are places where all people are respected and valued, regardless of sexual orientation.