As We See It

HRC launches LGBTQ youth-focused conference at Bally’s this weekend

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Gaylyn Daniels and Andrej Lukovac are shown at the Center Wednesday, May 1, 2013. “Gaymer,” the 2013 LGBTQ youth prom, is scheduled for Saturday, May 4. The dress is video game-themed costumes or prom attire.
Photo: Steve Marcus

From the playground to Senior Prom, bullying is something many of our nation’s youth face every day. But according to some staggering research done by the Human Rights Campaign, our nation’s LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to experience it.

That’s just one reason why the national LGBTQ lobbying organization has planned its inaugural Time to Thrive conference, a gathering for youth-serving professionals (including K-12 educators, mental health providers, pediatricians, religious leaders, recreational athletic coaches and youth development staff) that focuses on promoting safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth.

A partnership between HRC, the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association, the conference begins tonight and runs through Sunday afternoon at Bally’s.

Opening remarks will be given by a number of influential activists, including Betty DeGeneres (yes, that’s Ellen’s mom), HRC president Chad Griffin and Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard and co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The inaugural evening concludes with a performance by Broadway actress and former The Voice/American Idol contestant Frenchie Davis and a social at Bally’s new Indigo Lounge.

The three-day conference features a number of speaking engagements by officials from LGBTQ organizations, a film screening of Families Are Forever, and a panel discussion moderated by White House LGBTQ Liaison Gautam Raghavan (with panelists from federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Resources and Services Administration) and culminates with closing remarks from Chelsea Clinton.

Complementing the speaking appearances are several workshops addressing a number of LGBTQ-focused issues and topics. A sample of them include: True Colors Fund’s “Asking About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Why & How,” Trans Youth Family Allies’ “We Have a Transgender Student Coming to School. Now What?” and an “Unheard Voices: Integrating LGBTQ History, People and Events into Middle and High School Curricula” presentation by the Anti-Defamation League.

The conference concludes Sunday morning for adult attendees, but will continue through the afternoon for LGBTQ youth. HRC has invited a number of teens from local gay-straight alliance clubs to attend a lunch mixer and a special panel titled “Openly LGBTQ Individuals Thriving in Corporate America” – serving to let the attendees know that it can, and more often than not does, get better.

For more information about Time to Thrive or to register for the conference, visit timetothrive.org.

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