Governor’s School GSA Conference returns to Richmond to educate and offer safe social space for LGBTQ youth
Students from around the state will gather in Richmond next month when the second annual Governor’s School GSA Conference returns to Maggie Walker Governor’s school.
The event, now in its second year, aims to educate and offer networking opportunities for LGBTQ students and Gay-Straight Alliance club members in a fun and safe environment. The day-long event happens Saturday, November 19, 2016, and will offer workshops, speakers and social aspects for members of the community who are often considered most vulnerable.
Maggie Walker Senior and GSGSAC Executive Director Sarah Law (they/them) was particularly excited to get this year’s event underway.
“I went into last year thinking education was the most important, and I still think that’s really important cause a lot of LGBTQ youth don’t have access to resources so they can learn about healthcare and relationships and things like that,” Law said in an interview with GayRVA. Now in their second year as lead organizer for the GSGSAC, they said the social aspect of the event was equally if not more relevant to some of the kids who travel a long distance and lack these kind of opportunities in their home towns.
“We saw a lot of that last year,” they said. “people having conversations who had never met each other before; people networking and getting ideas from each other and making new friends.”
But beyond making new friends, workshops hope to inform and educate with topics like ‘Christianity and the LGBTQ Community’ and ‘Legal Rights for LGBTQ Youth.”
Law said topic ideas came from attendee’s suggestions after last year’s event.
“We learned a lot about what people were interested in seeing, so we gaged attendance numbers and planned accordingly,” they said.
Law’s been working hard since last year’s conference, trying to reach more kids and schools any way they can. While they developed a list of GSA’s last year, they saw an increase when they went to find more school clubs this year.
“There’s a couple high schools in Richmond City and Chesterfield with new GSAs that have started since our conference last year,” they said. “So its really important to reach out to them.”
While there’s still much to be announced, speakers for this year’s event include Chevelle Moss-Savage, Founder of Helping Everyone Accept & Adapt to Life, Afton Bradley, Transgender Health Care Services Manager at the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Bary Hausrath, Esq., Attorney and Owner at BaryLaw and President of the Richmond Business Alliance (RBA) and many more.
Hausrath returned as a speaker and sponsor this year. He said the event fits into the RBA’s mission to support the next generation of LGBTQ consumers.
“Supporting students is a great way to not only demonstrate our organizational purpose, but also show our members that we are actively reaching out to all aspects of our community… not just adult consumers, but younger folks who are bringing spending dollars to the table,” he said.
Hausrath remembered his own high school days, growing up in a small, rural Virginia town, where there were no GSA-style groups where he could find support.
“The idea that schools that have previously not had GSAs are organizing is really encouraging,” he said. “It provides a sense that things will be better for the next generation.”
But for Law, its all about helping out those in need – like the dozen kids who came down from Louisa, VA, last year. They said there were even more kids who wanted to come but their school bus was too small to fit them all.
“Someone from Louisa is on our board this year,” Law said. “So he’s helping coordinate the effort to bring more students down.”
And for those curious but unsure if they should attend, Law promised a unique chance to connect with other kids who identify as LGBTQ and are looking to make supportive environments in their schools.
“There are so few events like this, with this degree of education for LGBTQ youth, in Central Virginia,” the said. “It’s one of the best ways to meet other people like you.”
Tickets to the event are $10 (which can be waved if needed) and can be purchased through their website here. The ticket covers a day full of events as well as breakfast, lunch and a snack.
If you’re a small businesses that wants to help support the GSGSAC, you can reach them for sponsorship opportunities here.
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