MSU Extension Community Development hosting online summit for LGBTQ+ youth
from MSU News Service
BOZEMAN – “Rainbows Over the Rockies: Celebrating Diversity with Leadership and Learning” will take place online April 30-May 2 via the Montana State University Extension Community Development program website.
The free event is an educational and networking summit for LGBTQ+ youth, families, professionals and allies with specialists from across Montana and the United States leading webinars and engaging the audience in leadership and learning events during the three days.
According to organizer Paul Lachapelle, MSU professor of political science and an Extension community development specialist, the goal of the summit is to provide citizens with information and resources that address issues and challenges experienced by LGBTQ+ youth and that can be used and applied in their own communities. Another goal, he added, is to develop a network of well-informed youth and adults across Montana who are motivated to access educational and supportive services for the LGBTQ+ community.
Lachapelle said the more than 30 summit contributors and partners recognize the importance of bringing the educational content to the citizens of Montana, particularly for the state’s youth.
“The summit addresses the high suicide rates, which, according to the Trevor Project, are nearly nine times higher for LGBTQ+ youth who come from highly rejecting families,” Lachapelle said. “Our ultimate goal is mutual learning of the lived experience of LGBTQ+ community members and offering content and opportunities for greater understanding and discussion on sexual orientation, gender identity, pronoun usage, gender transition, coming out, civil rights, and physical and mental health issues for our youth, families and allies.”
The summit begins Thursday, April 30, with an opening conversation with Jeffrey Myers, a retired Extension professional from Baltimore with a passion for LGBTQ+ training focused on rural and agricultural audiences. His presentation will be followed by a slate of presentations discussing how Extension and 4-H can support LGBTQ+ youth and families, especially those from rural areas.
Presentations by representatives from EmpowerMT are set for Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2. They will include a discussion about tools for effective leadership, collaboration and advocacy in schools and communities. Pride Foundation will discuss the “Open To All – Montana” program that engages more than 315 businesses across the state about strategies such as updating a non-discrimination policy, modifying facilities to be gender inclusive and holding LGBTQ-specific events; Transvisible Montana will discuss how to find effective allies and support for transgender, non-binary, and two-spirit community members. Forward Montana will lead a youth workshop about building civic engagement and leadership skills. Health and wellness presentations will include discussions on mental wellness for gender and sexual minorities with social worker and therapist Glee Dunbar and medical management of gender transition with nurse practitioner Katie Mustretta.
There will also be opportunities for pre- and post-summit collaboration. Awards will be given to youth and communities for local leadership and action development.
The summit will also be recorded and posted online at http://msucommunitydevelopment.org/rainbows.html and on social media at https://twitter.com/RainbowSummit20, https://www.instagram.com/msucommdevspec/ and https://www.facebook.com/MSUCommunityDevelopmentSpecialist/.
Major contributors to the summit include MSU Extension Community Development and the Western Rural Development Center with other supporters that include the MSU Office of the President, MSU College of Letters and Science, MSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Bozeman Health and Bridgercare among others.
Registration is now open and more information about the event including the agenda, speaker bios and presentation descriptions, is available at: http://msucommunitydevelopment.org/rainbows.html. •