"Unbelievable, surreal, so humbling and such a gift."
That was Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli's first reaction to winning a second Lambda Literary Foundation Award in New York.
"I had no speech prepared as I didn’t think I’d win two years in a row," she said.
"In the end, I said something like, 'basically, I just want this research to support making schools a healthy and happy place for all genders, all sexualities, all cultures and all family forms. I hope we get there one day'.
"So now I do feel like that my research project has hopefully achieved some good in having it published and awarded in both its accessible novel form and hopefully accessible academic form."
The Lambda Literary Foundation Awards celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) writings and writers, many of whom have acquired international fame - Michael Cunningham, Jeanette Winterson, Colm Toibin, Sarah Waters, Armistead Maupin; noted historians Martin Duberman and Lillian Faderman; mystery writers Joseph Hansen, Nicola Griffith, and Michael Nava; poets Adrienne Rich and Mark Doty; playwright Tony Kushner; and many others.
Groundbreaking books have been honored, such as Alan Berube’s Coming Out Under Fire and Randy Shilts’ And the Band Played On.
Dr Pallotta-Chiarolli won the 2011 award for her publication Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, in the Bisexual - Nonfiction category.
Her research is primarily concerned with marginal and vulnerable groups in relation to gender diversity, cultural diversity and sexual diversity, and the links to social, emotional, mental and sexual health.
With a specific focus on youth and women, Dr Pallotta-Chiarolli conducts qualitative ethnographic research which is largely a collaboration with participants in order to produce user-friendly resource texts as well as academic and non-academic publications.
She is regularly called upon to act as a consultant in educational, workplace, health services and community service settings.