The 21st National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change was held in Denver, Colorado, Jan. 28–Feb. 1, 2009, and is the nation’s largest LGBT conference that provides capacity building and professional development within the LGBT community. Each year the conference is held in a different region of the United States. Over 2000 people from all over the country and of all ages attended this year, representing a variety of different sectors ranging from government to civil society, including private and public organizations both within and outside of the LGBT community.
During the conference, SIECUS participated in a workshop entitled “LGBT Federal Youth Policy” in conjunction with colleagues from Advocates for Youth, the National Coalition of LGBT Health, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
The workshop provided an overview of the many federal policy issues currently affecting LGBT youth including safe schools, housing, and federal data collection. SIECUS staff presented on how federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs discriminate against LGBT youth in the classroom. SIECUS then worked with participants to develop and share effective advocacy messages and strategies.
SIECUS recognizes that federal policy currently affects the lives of LGBT youth and youth-serving organizations in many dramatic ways. “Much can be done to help create healthier, brighter futures for LGBT youth, and SIECUS believes that ending abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and securing comprehensive sexuality education is a key first step to achieving this,” said William Smith, SIECUS’ vice president for public policy.