TORONTO - For the creators of the Canadian cross-border high-school hit "Degrassi," it's like getting a ticket to the Academy Awards.

The series has been nominated for a best-drama award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the U.S. for a groundbreaking season that introduced a teenage transgender character.

"For the people in this building, it's almost like getting nominated for an Emmy or an Oscar," Stefan Brogren, who acts, directs and produces on the series, said Thursday in Toronto.

"It's big news around here. We do pride ourselves on trying to tell really truthful stories."

"Degrassi," which airs on MuchMusic in Canada and TeenNick in the U.S., is up for a GLAAD Media Award against "Brothers & Sisters," "Grey's Anatomy," "Pretty Little Liars" and "True Blood."

This is the third GLAAD nomination for "Degrassi" after nods in 2008 and 2004.

The competition increases every year as more TV series touch on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, said Brogren, who's been with the "Degrassi" franchise since the 1980s and now plays the principal, Mr. Simpson.

"I think there's no doubt that more and more shows are introducing gay characters and I don't think for any other reason except that there's a large part of the audience that wants to relate to something," he said.

"I think the shows are aware as well that people need to see themselves on these shows."

Of course, "Degrassi" has touched on LGBT issues for many years.

In its current 10th season, viewers have met transgender character Adam, played by Jordan Todosey, and watched football player Riley (Argiris Karras) struggle with being openly gay.

In 2004, Adamo Ruggiero's character, Marco, came out of the closet, the character Paige (Lauren Collins) questioned her sexuality and viewers learned that Alex (Deanna Casaluce) was a lesbian.

And in an episode in 1988, the brother of Snake (Brogren) returned home from college, announced he was gay and quickly fled back to school.

"Back then that was considered a bold show," said Brogren. "There was no way back then that we would've considered, or at least I think the producers would've considered, having a regular character on the show come out as gay.

"It was just too much, I think, at the time for people to sort of wrap their heads around, as far as how to produce it."

These days, telling truthful stories with young LGBT characters is a "big part" of the show and always will be, he added.

"As many characters that we have that are straight, we definitely want to make sure that we're representing everybody. It only means we're going to get more fans so it's good for us."

GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in New York on March 19 and in San Francisco on May 14 and in Los Angeles.

Selected nominations for the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards:

Outstanding Film - Wide Release:

  • 'Burlesque'
  • 'Easy A'
  • 'The Girl Who Played with Fire'
  • 'The Kids are All Right'
  • 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

Outstanding Film - Limited Release:

  • 'Howl'
  • 'I Love You Phillip Morris'
  • 'La Mission'
  • 'Patrik, Age 1.5'
  • 'Undertow'

Outstanding Drama Series:

  • 'True Blood'
  • 'Pretty Little Liars'
  • 'Grey's Anatomy'
  • 'Brothers and Sisters'
  • 'Degrassi'

Outstanding Comedy Series:

  • 'Glee'
  • 'Greek'
  • 'Modern Family'
  • 'Nurse Jackie'
  • 'United States of Tara'

Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character):

  • 'Escape From the Castle'- 'Bored to Death'
  • 'Innocence' - 'Law & Order'
  • 'Klaus & Greta' - '30 Rock'
  • 'Queen of Mean' - 'Drop Dead Diva'
  • 'Samaritan' - 'Law & Order'

Outstanding Documentary:

  • '8: The Mormon Proposition'
  • 'Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement'
  • 'Prodigal Sons'
  • 'Sylvester'
  • 'Out. The Glenn Burke Story '

Outstanding Reality Program:

  • 'The Fabulous Beekman Boys'
  • 'Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys'
  • 'Project Runway'
  • 'Top Chef: Just Desserts'
  • 'TRANSform Me'

Outstanding Music Artist (LGBT music artists who released an original album in 2010):

  • Antony and the Johnsons
  • Big Freedia
  • Chely Wright
  • Kele Okereke
  • Scissor Sisters

Outstanding Talk Show Episode:

  • 'Constance McMillen' - 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'
  • 'Neil Patrick Harris' - 'The Talk'
  • 'Rebuilding Home After Tragedy: The Seth Walsh Story' - 'The Nate Berkus Show'
  • 'Ricky Martin Coming Out as a Gay Man and a New Dad' - 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'
  • 'Transgender Kids: Too Young to Decide?' - 'The Dr. Oz Show'