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Tim Cook honored for LGBTQ advocacy at 15th GLSEN Respect Awards

Apple CEO Tim Cook has declared there is "so much more" everyone can do to help prevent bullying and harassment of LGBTQ teenagers and young people at the 15th annual GLSEN Respect Awards on Friday, where the chief executive was honored for being an advocate.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at WWDC 2019

The GLSEN Respect Awards highlights the work of individuals and organizations who have made an impact to improve the lives of LGBTQ youth. This year's ceremony, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Friday, honored Cook with the Champion Award for his commitment to fight for LGBTQ rights and the community at large.

"GLSEN knows well and has held as its mission for nearly 30 years, that what we learn and what we're told to value as children can define the course of our lives," Cook said on stage accepting the award, reports Variety. "If a teacher, a parent, an authority figure takes time to show kindness, to represent the great diversity of our humanity and to create space for authentic conversations when we're young, it stays in our hearts forever and it builds better people as a result."

Cook added that there was still work to be done to help those at risk, suggesting "Unfortunately, we still see far too often the consequences of failing our kids. Trans and non-binary young people kicked out of their homes and attacked on our streets. Bullying and harassment in our schools, and a broader society that still sends the message, when the going gets tough, it's the least among us who get targeted first."

"There is so much more each of us can do to change these things," Cook urged, "and that's what brought me here."

Of GLSEN and the awards, Cook mused "I can't help but imagine how much it would have meant to me, growing up in a small town, just a few mostly empty miles from the Gulf Coast, to know that somewhere out there was a room like this, filled with people who cared so much."

Cook dedicated his award to a 62-year-old man, who came out to his wife of 26 years after reading an op-ed in 2014 where Cook came out publicly. In a recent interview, Cook reflected on his decision and "has not regretted it for one minute, not at all."

Founded by a group of teachers in 1990, GLSEN works to create affirming learning environments for students in grades K-12, as well as conducting research and producing resources for educators to help promote LGBTQ acceptance.

The awards also honored the cast and production team of the CW's "Riverdale," Amazon Studios CEO Jennifer Salke, and Texas high school senior Elle Smith as student advocate of the year.