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Diverse Community Leader Award Honoree

Laura Kanter (Santa Ana)

Laura Kanter is an outspoken leader in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) community. She works for The LGBT Center OC where she has been a tireless advocate for the community. As The Center OC transitioned from one director to another and then another, Laura has been a consistent voice and presence for the LGBTQ community, keeping up her advocacy, coalition building, and community education efforts. Laura gives and gives, over and above the job, working many more than her paid hours. She will work around the clock when she sees an important opportunity to educate, build awareness, and support the LGBT community.

When immigrant, predominately gay, Latinos were murdered in Orlando, Florida the national LGBTQ community was traumatized. Laura did not hesitate to step into the vacuum and take action. She participated in a press conference to send a message of love and support to the families of the victims, and to state that Orange County condemns hate crime. She was able to bridge diverse communities by joining the Muslim community in the press conference. An elderly, immigrant, nationally recognized Imam joined the press conference, standing shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community. This was a huge step, as historically the conservative Muslim community has not been supportive of gay rights.

A significant number of Orange County’s Transgender community report suffering broad-based discrimination, ridicule and abuse. Laura has been a key ally to the Transgender community, raising awareness of their plight and standing with them in their sorrow. After one prominent member of the Transgender community was murdered, Laura organized a memorial service, and reached out to diverse communities to participate. Her outreach connected her with the Chair of the OC Human Relations Commission, which led to a Listening Session being organized at the Center and a special report being issued by the Commission on Transgender issues, as well as ongoing relationship building with local law enforcement.

About the Award

Our annual Diverse Community Leaders Award honors individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights.

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