TCU hosts LGBT leadership conference

Students from other area schools will gather for workshops and speakers on Fort Worth campus

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

This weekend, Texas Christian University is hosting an LGBT leadership conference that started out as a response to bullying and bullying-related suicides, organizer Jamal King said.

Last fall, as news spread about the large number of gay teens who took their own lives in a short period of time, the TCU gay-straight alliance held a candlelight vigil on campus.

But King said they felt it wasn’t enough. “[We felt] there must be something more we could do,” he said.

In November, the GSA invited a speaker from the Trevor Project to come to campus in the spring. That speaking engagement quickly evolved into an all-day conference.
King said there was an overwhelming response, not only from his own campus but also from Texas Wesleyan University and University of Texas at Arlington. Students from campuses around the state and Oklahoma have registered.

In addition to the speaker from the Trevor Project, representatives from Youth First Texas, the AIDS Outreach Center, QCinema, PFLAG, GLSEN, Dallas Voice and Pride in the Truth, a religious group founded by members of LGBT-friendly Crossroads Community Church, will participate. “We had a surprising amount of support from the faculty and staff,” King said.

He was also happy with the corporate support the project received. Pepsico and Wells Fargo are the event’s main sponsors. Z’s Café, located at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center and formed in partnership with Samaritan House, will provide lunch.

Eric Russell is a junior at TCU and vice president of the GSA. He is coordinating committees from check-in to food, entertainment and programming. “It surprised me how quickly we did this,” Russell said.

Russell said he knew they were on the right track when he heard from a psych professor that she was letting all of her students know about the conference. He said the diversity and acceptance on the TCU campus has surprised him.

Amanda Moten is president of her GSA at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and she said she is “expecting to learn a lot” at the day-long conference.

She said that she’s been encouraging people from her campus and others in the area to attend. She said she’s been a member of a GSA since she was in high school and has opened her school’s group up as a safe space for high school students who don’t have a place in their own school. “People can come and talk,” she said. “No matter what other people have told you that you are, you’re accepted here.”

Moten said she is helping sponsor high school students who cannot afford to attend the conference. She also commented on the relationship her group has developed with TCU’s. “I love that our GSAs are becoming BFFs,” she said.

King said that it was important for TCU’s GSA to become more visible on campus. He said he hopes that students just coming to terms with coming out would be helped by just knowing the LGBT leadership conference was taking place on campus and that they are not alone.

The conference begins with a kick-off party on Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m. The $20 registration fee for the Saturday conference includes lunch. The party and conference will be held in TCU’s Brown Lupton University Union.

To register or for more information, contact gsa.tcu@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright