Students from all parts of RVA to gather for ‘Governor’s School Gender and Sexuality Alliance Conference’ this weekend
While Richmond remains a progressive bastion surrounded by the rest of conservative Central Virginia, the students who attend local schools are hoping to organize their pro-LGBTQ message at an event this weekend.
Titled the Governor’s School GSA Conference, dozens of students from local private and public schools will gather at Maggie Walker Governor’s school this weekend and spend the day networking, gaining resources, and learning about LGBTQ issues and how they affect their lives as students and citizens.
“Lots of LGBTQ’s and allies don’t have a lot of resources… and we have the opportunity to share it with people,” said Sarah Law, a junior at Maggie Walker and the Executive Director of this weekend’s event.
Law, who identifies as non-binary on the trans spectrum, said the road to this weekend’s conference was surprisingly smooth, with support from their school’s administrators as well as organizers at ROSMY. But the help from parents and adults was minimal, with most of the event being coordinated by the students themselves.
“We’re all working together, doing different jobs, to get this together,” said Law. “Administrators have offered us support, suggestions, ideas, but most of the planning has been done by students.”
Law recruited students from different schools and gave leaders individual responsibilities to help make the weekend come together. Armed with a loose itinerary from a past GLSEN GSA conference, the organizers managed to put together a day full of speakers, discussion groups, and more for attendees.
“Reaching out to the students and teachers involved made it easy to garner support,” Law said. Once they had the student’s attention, the group took suggestions through an online poll to find out what people would actually want to see and do during the event. Sure enough, about 100 folks participated in the online questionnaire and it yielded the 8 AM to 4 PM series of events.
The day will open with a speech from Reverend Mandy England Cole, Senior Pastor at Ginter Park Baptist Church.
Law said they wanted to open the day with a conversation around the intersectionality of faith and sexuality because it was sure to be a controversial and engaging topic.
Other speakers include local Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Lisa Griffin, Chevelle Moss-Savage, Outreach Coordinator at Virginia State University’s Counseling Center, Afton Bradley, a Trans Health Services/HIV Test Counselor at Fan Free Clinic, and a few others.
“We’re covering a lot of topics like history and writing and healthy relationships,” said Law about the wide variety of options available to attendees. They also hope having role models from the local LGBTQ community as speakers will give students a unique experience to learn and connect.
If nothing else, Law hopes students who come out for Saturday’s event will learn there are other sexual minority students near by, and there’s hope for those who feel isolated.
“It’s a very important thing to have so students can learn, but [also] feel like they’re not alone in Richmond,” they said.
Registration for this weekend’s event closes Wednesday (sign up here), but any high school students from the LGBTQ spectrum (or allies) are welcome to attend, registering just guarantees lunch (provided by Qdoba)
Editors note: This article originally ran with Gay Straight Alliance as the mean for GSA however Maggie Walker’s GSA club stands for Gender Sexuality Alliance. The headline has been updated to reflect that.
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