Resources for National Suicide Prevention Month

Bwi4qpCCUAEm1B1September is National Suicide Prevention Month. A recent issue of the Voice covered ways of identifying, coping and living with depression. You can read the story here.

We also provided an expansive list of resources, including emergency hotlines, LGBT-affirming faith groups, counselors and more. That list is reprinted below.

Did we miss a great resource? List it in the comments.

National Resources
• The Trevor Project:
866-488-7386
• National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
• NSPH’s Deaf Hotline:
1-800-799-4889
• GLBT National Help Center:
1-888-THE-GLNH (4564)

Local Community Resources
• Alcoholics Anonymous Lambda Group:
214-267-0222 or 214-887-6699
• G.E.A.R. (Gender Education, Advocacy and Resources):
214-528-0144
• Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Fort Worth and Tarrant County:
817-654-7100 or dbsa_fortworth@yahoo.com.
• Legacy Counseling, private and group sessions that include alcohol and substance
abuse programs for people with HIV:
214-520-6308
• Resource Center (in conjunction with SMU’s Master of Science Counseling Education Program):
214-393-3680
• AIDS Outreach Center/The Journey (support group for people living with HIV):
Brenda Wingo, 817-916-5217.
• AIDS Outreach Center/Mujeres Unida(for HIV-positive women, in Spanish):
Ana Colin-Hernandez, 817-916-5214.
• AIDS Outreach Center/Futuro Unidos(for HIV-positive men, in Spanish):
Bea Lampka at 817-916-5225
• AIDS Outreach Center/Man Talk (for HIV-positive gay and bisexual men):
Curtis Smith, 817-916-5219.
• Mental Health America Of Greater Tarrant County | Warm Line (non-crisis referral number, limited hours, 1-5 p.m.
Monday-Friday): 817-546-7826.
• MHMR of Tarrant County 24-hour Crisis Hotline:
1-800-866-2465 or 817-335-3022.
• The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas:
214-828-1000.

Local LGBT-Affirming Counselors
• Stonewall Behavioral Health:
214-521-1278, Stonewall@Stonewall-inc.com.
• Hall Counseling and Associates:
214-662-3523, dallasXian@aol.com.
• Beth Clardy Lewis, M.A., L.P.C.:
817-781-3735, bethlewistherapy@gmail.com.
• Cynthia Lovell, M.Ed., L.P.C.:
214-497-6268.
• Randy Martin, L.P.C.-S.:
214-392-8247, martinlpc@yahoo.com.
• Tammy Tips, M.A., L.P.C.: 817-300-8809.

Local Religious Resources
• Agape MCC (Fort Worth):
817-535-5002.
• Beth El Binah (Dallas):
214-500-8304.
• Cathedral of Hope (Dallas):
214-351-1901.
• Cathedral of Hope-Mid Cities (Hurst):
817-354-HOPE
• Celebration Community Church (Fort Worth):
817-335-3222
• Celebration on the Lake (Gun Barrel City):
903-451-2302.
• Crossroads Community Church (Dallas):
214-520-9090.
• Harvest MCC (Denton):
940-484-6159.
• Northaven UMC (Dallas):
214-363-2479.
• MCC Dallas:
972-243-0761.
• Oak Lawn UMC (Dallas):
214-521-5197.
• St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church (Dallas):
214-352-0410.
• Trinity MCC (Arlington):
817-265-5454.

—  James Russell

LGBT teen suicides continue — and so does harassment of Asher Brown’s parents

The It Gets Better Project project has helped a number of teens who are bullied in schools and churches. Legislation to stop bullying has passed in a number of states including Texas.

Amy and David Truong at Texas Capitol

But the bullying continues and so does teen suicide. Here are four gay teens who took their own lives in January. Others may have gone unreported as LGBT-related.

• Jan. 1 — Jeffrey Fehr, 18, hanged himself at his family’s home in Granite Bay, Calif.

• Jan. 11 — Eric James Borges, 19, an intern at The Trevor Project, committed suicide after being bullied, tormented and terrorized for most of his life. His religious-extremist parents did not to attend his memorial.

• Jan. 20 — Phillip Parker, 14, of Gorndonsville, Tenn. committed suicide. His parents said he was constantly bullied because he was gay.

• Jan. 29 — Rafael Morelos, 14, of Wenatchee, Wash., who was openly gay, hanged himself after constant bullying.

But the bullying doesn’t stop there. Dallas Voice reported in March 2011 that Asher Brown’s parents, Amy and David Truong, were being harassed for speaking out against the Cy-Fair Independent School District and pushing for anti-bullying legislation.

Asher was one of the teen’s whose suicide brought national attention to the issue. His parents lobbied Texas legislators and testified before the Senate Education Committee about the bullying Asher endured.

Fox News in Houston reports that the Truongs continue to be the victims of bullying and vandalism at their house. Watch the Fox video here.

—  David Taffet

TX schools chalked with anti-bullying messages

Anti-bullying graffiti found at Lampasas High School a week ago

GetEQUAL Texas has posted photos of Lampasas middle and high schools chalked with anti-bullying messages on Jan. 14. The New Civil Rights Movement has more on the incident.

Lampasas is about 25 miles west of Fort Hood.

Jay Morris reports that the schools were chosen because of reports of high rates of bullying. Morris is with the Direct Action Network of San Antonio and GetEQUAL Texas. He says his information comes from an anonymous source.

Messages chalked at the school included “Bully-free zone,” “Not one more youth suicide. Speak Up. Save a Life” and the phone number to the Trevor Project. The photos are from the GetEQUAL Texas Facebook page.

More photos after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Chronicle blogger blames ‘It Gets Better” project for LGBT teen suicides

Kathleen McKinley

Kathleen McKinley

Kathy McKinley is a self-described “conservative activist” who blogs for the Houston Chronicle under the monicker “TexasSparkle.” In a recent post McKinley took the “It Gets Better” project to task for what she believes is their culpability in the suicides of LGBT teens:

“These kids were sold a bill of goods by people who thought they were being kind. The “It will get better” campaign just didn’t think it through. They didn’t think about the fact that kids are different from adults. They handle things differently. They react differently. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. You can grumble all day long how unfair it is that straight teens can be straight in high school, and gay kids can’t, but life is unfair. Isn’t the price they are paying too high?? Is it so much to ask them to stand at the door of adulthood before they “come out” publically? Because it may save their life.”

McKinnley’s primary confusion about the “It Gets Better” campaign (other than its name) is the assumption that the goal is to encourage teens to come out of the closet, or encourage them to become sexually active:

“Why in the world would you give teenagers a REASON to tease you? Oh, yes, because the adults tell you to embrace who you are, the only problem? Kids that age are just discovering who they are. They really have no idea yet. The adults tell you to “come out,” when what we should be telling them is that sex is for adults, and there is plenty of time for figuring out that later.”

I would like to encourage Ms. McKinley to watch the “It Gets Better” project’s founder Dan Savages’ video. Please, Ms. McKinley, listen, and tell me if you hear Savage or his partner Terry say anything about teens coming out or having sex. I think what you’ll hear them say is that all of the things that most kids, gay and straight, dream of (falling in love, starting a family, having the support of their parents, co-workers and friends) are possible for LGBT teens. I think you’ll hear them talk about how difficult their teen years were, and about the fears they had that their parents would reject them, that they’d never find success and that they’d always be alone.

Choosing to have sex is one of the most personal decision a person will ever make. For LGBT people, choosing to come out is another. I have not watched all of the thousands of videos from people who have participated in the “It Gets Better” project. It’s possible that there are a few that tell kids to come out right away, or to become sexually active, but I doubt it.

Every video in the project that I have seen has had the same simple message: that the person making it understands how tortuously awful the experience of being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender in Junior and High School can be, but there is a wonderful world of loving, vibrant, successful, engaged LGBT adults out there and if queer teens can just hang on, just for a few years, they can join it. I doubt that any of the contributors to the project think that hanging on for a few years will be easy. I suspect that most of them remember, with excruciating clarity, contemplating ending those temporary years of terror with a permanent solution and that is why they choose to reach out.

I grew up without role models, where people like Barbara Gittings, Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk didn’t exist . I grew up in a small town where the two men with the pink house were talked about in hushed tones that immediately fell silent when I walked into the room, because it wasn’t appropriate for children’s ears. I grew up in a world where my mother wouldn’t tell me what “gay” meant, where the evening news was turned off if it reported on the AIDS crisis, where I wasn’t given words to describe who I was, and so the only word I could find was “alone.”

I was lucky. My suicide attempt failed.

I was lucky, I survived, and went to college, and found a church that embraced and loved LGBT people. That’s where I met doctors and lawyers and business owners and teachers who were like me. That’s where I met two wonderful women who had built a life together for over 50 years. That’s where I discovered I wasn’t alone and that being gay didn’t mean that i couldn’t have all of those things I’d dreamed of.

That is what McKinley missed in her blog post. In her haste to lay blame on anything other than the overwhelming prejudice perpetuated by schools, churches and governments against LGBT people McKinley missed the fact that kids need role models. In her rush to shove queer teens back into the closet she forgot that human beings need the hope of a better world, lest they give up in despair.

McKinley got one thing right in her post. She titled it “Are Adults Also To Blame For Gay Teen Suicides? Yes.” Adults are to blame for LGBT teen suicides. When adults hide the stunning diversity of God’s creation from their children they create a vision of reality that some of those children can’t see themselves in. When adults tell LGBT teens that they should be invisible then it is all too clear who is to blame when those teens believe them, and take steps to make themselves invisible permanently.

To all the LGBT kids out there: it does get better. There are adults who care about you and want all the wonderful things you dream of to come true, but you have to hang on. If you need to keep who are secret to remain safe then do so. If you need someone to talk to please call the Trevor Project at 866-4-U-Trevor (866-488-7386).

—  admin

‘Big Rich Texas’ cast members to host watching party at Drama Room benefiting Trevor Project

What does the television community see in Dallas? The A-List Dallas debuts next month, and Most Eligible Dallas is already humiliating our fair city, but there’s also the not-especially-gay Big Rich Texas show, which airs on the Style Network. The season finale of the series, about well-heeled mothers and daughters who snipe between credit card purchases, will be holding a watching party on Sunday … in, of all places, the Drama Room on Cedar Springs. Bon and Whit Blossman, above, who appear on the show, will host the viewing party on Sunday, Oct. 2, as a benefit for the Trevor Project. (You can watch some of their antics here.)

Donations will be taken at the door. The show airs at 8 p.m., but arrive early — it’s better watching if you’re already a little drunk.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Are LGBT students safer this year?

ANTI-BULLYING CONFERENCE | President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sit with Brandon Greene of Burrilville, R.I., right, and Jacqui Knight of Moore, Okla., as they meet with students and parents from the Conference on Bullying Prevention in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington last March. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

A year after a rash of teen suicides focused attention on the problem of anti-LGBT bullying, some experts say it’s true things have improved, but not nearly enough

DANA RUDOLPH | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

Anti-LGBT bullying took the national stage last fall after the highly publicized suicides of several teens bullied for being or being perceived to be LGBT.

The relentless bullying, many believe, may have been one of the contributing factors in many of those youths’ decisions to attempt suicide, and their deaths led to a surge of anti-bullying awareness campaigns and media coverage.

But will LGBT students entering school this fall be any safer after a year of heightened awareness about the issue? Two LGBT leaders are doubtful, although they acknowledge some positive changes.

Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, said, “Last fall, the nation as a whole woke up to the potential consequences of this problem.”

And this year, “more schools are aware of what they need to do, and there are more resources out there,” she said.

But while “we’ve made progress” in people’s understanding of anti-LGBT bullying and “ideas and policies are getting traction,” Byard said, there is still “a lot of work to be done.”

David McFarland, interim executive director/CEO of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT and questioning youth, said he too believes there is a long way yet to go.

“We’re not there yet because we’re continuing to see anti-LGBT rhetoric and movement across this country that has a negative effect on young people,” McFarland said. “There is greater awareness around this issue, but LGBT students still experience bullying and harassment at an alarming rate.”

Research has shown the negative effects of bullying. GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced verbal or physical harassment at school in the previous year, which was related to increased depression and anxiety and decreased self-esteem.

And a study in the May 2011 Journal of School Health found that anti-LGBT bullying at school “is strongly linked” to negative mental health for its victims, including an increased frequency of suicide attempts and increased risk for engaging in behaviors that can lead to infection with STDs and HIV.

The increased risks exist not only while the victim is in adolescence, but also in young adulthood.

At the federal level

Federal actions taken over the last year to address anti-LGBT bullying include, most prominently, an anti-bullying conference hosted by the While House in March 2011, at which President Obama told attendees that bullying is “more likely to affect kids that are seen as different,” including those who are different because of sexual orientation.

The U.S. Department of Education has also issued a number of letters to educators, reminding them:

• that federal laws require schools to take action against bullying, including gender-based and sexual harassment of LGBT students.

• that schools receiving federal funds must provide equal access to school resources for all student groups, including gay-straight alliances, and that GSAs “can help make schools safe and affirming environments for everyone.”

• that effective state anti-bullying laws include ones that specify “actual or perceived characteristics of students who have historically been targets of bullying,” such as sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the states

On the state level, since last fall, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut and Rhode Island enacted anti-bullying legislation that explicitly prohibits bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as recommended by the Department of Education, making a total of 14 states that do so.

The others include California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

An additional two, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, specify sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

North Dakota and Texas enacted anti-bullying laws in the last year, but those laws do not enumerate sexual orientation and gender identity.

And Byard said there has been “tremendous activity at district and local levels” across the country to address bullying.

McFarland, too, stressed the importance of local action.

“Schools and communities need to take concrete steps, creating safe spaces where youth can receive support from caring adults,” he said.

Both the Trevor Project and GLSEN are among the organizations that provide training to help them do so.

Byard said, however, that, “The biggest problem we have right now is that schools are in crisis because of the economy. We’ve got to make sure schools that want to do the right thing are not prevented because of a lack of resources.”

It may be tough going. The federal Fiscal Year 2011 budget drained more than $100 million from the two primary federal grant programs that address bullying. And state education budgets continue to face cuts.

McFarland noted that, in some districts, the problem may be attitudinal as well as budgetary, especially in states and school districts with “no promo homo” laws or policies preventing school-based instruction that could be interpreted to be positive about homosexuality.

Eight states — Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah — have such laws statewide, according to GLSEN.

But individual school districts in other states may have similar policies, as does the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, part of which is in the congressional district of presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center recently filed a lawsuit against the district, claiming the policies “exacerbated” anti-gay harassment. This caused some students “serious emotional harm, including anxiety, anger, and depression, which led some of them to consider or attempt suicide.”

In the nine months between November 2009 and July 2010, at least four LGBT students within the district died by suicide.

Federal anti-bullying legislation “would make an enormous difference,” said Byard.

Three pairs of bills in the U.S. House and Senate would address anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools and universities. But the bills seem unlikely to pass the current Republican-controlled House, despite having a handful of Republican co-sponsors.

Still, Byard and McFarland feel the efforts over the past year have had some positive effect.

“After last year, more doors are open,” Byard said. “People know this needs to be done.”

McFarland added, “For the first time, the challenges of LGBT youth are no longer invisible on a local, state, or national level.”

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Better get over to Lakewood Bar & Grill now to help out the Trevor Project

I just received a text from local musician SuZanne Kimbrell about tonight’s event. She’s the lady behind the bimonthly Twist music events held bi-monthly at Lakewood Bar & Grill that features local LGBT artists we don’t see anywhere else.

She messaged that tonight’s One Night Stand show at the LBG is benefiting The Trevor Project and all the money from the $10 cover is going toward the organization. The thing is, it started at 7 p.m. But with a healthy lineup of musicians, I figure the event will last well into the night. Immigrant Punk, Emmiline, Jay Bean, Kimbrell and more all perform tonight.

You still have time to get there, have a beer, get in tune with some homegrown music and help out the good cause. You know you want to.

—  Rich Lopez

Trevor Project honors Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe, left, with costars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in a scene from ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1′

I readily admit that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I love the books. I love the movies. And I love the young actors that portray the characters in the movies — especially Daniel Radcliffe.

Radcliffe makes my list of favorites not just because he plays the heroic Harry Potter, but also because of his dedication, as a straight ally, to making life better for LGBT teens.

Obviously, I am not Radcliffe’s only fan. The Associated Press reports today that Radcliffe has been honored by The Trevor Project with the Hero Award for his work with the organization. Since first learning about the Trevor Project in 2008, he has worked to support the organization through public service announcements and other public statements. Radcliffe has also been very vocal and public in his support for LGBT equality.

Radcliffe told AP  he considers it “an honor” to have the chance to support the Trevor Project, and that he believes, “The people that are doing the heroic things are the people answering phones 24 hours a day in the Trevor call centers.” He said that supporting the Trevor Project is “absolutely one of the most important, if not the most important, thing that I’m associated with.”

Previous winners of the Trevor Project Hero Award are Nathan Lane, Dustin Lance Black and Vanessa Williams.

The final installment of the “Harry Potter” movie series — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 — will be released in July, and Radcliffe is now starring in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

—  admin

White House calls for coordinated anti-bullying efforts

Anti-bullying bills introduced in Congress in conjunction with White House conference

DANA RUDOLPH  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

The White House held a high-visibility conference on bullying prevention Thursday, March 10, with the president and first lady calling on parents, teachers, students, and communities to address the problem together.

Members of Congress also this week introduced several LGBT-inclusive bills designed to address bullying and harassment of students.

In his opening remarks, President Obama said the one overarching goal of the conference was “to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.” Instead, he said, “Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people.”

The president also noted that bullying is “more likely to affect kids that are seen as different, whether it’s because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, the disability they may have or sexual orientation.”

Attending the event were senior administration officials and approximately 150 students, parents, teachers, advocates and others, including gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, representatives from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Trevor Project.

“No school can be a great school until it is first a safe school,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. And Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius asserted, “Bullying is not an education problem or a health problem — it is a community problem.”

Breakout sessions led by other administration officials discussed school policies and programs, campus and community programs, and cyber-bullying. Although there were no sessions or speeches specific to anti-LGBT bullying, the need to address it came up numerous times in breakout sessions and speeches.

Kevin Jennings, the openly gay assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the Department of Education — and the founder of GLSEN — said in a call with reporters that bullying has reached a “tipping point” where it “is no longer tolerable.”

What pushed it to that point, he said, was the media attention surrounding a string of five suicides last fall related to anti-LGBT bullying.

The event also served to launch the Web site StopBullying.gov, which consolidates federal anti-bullying resources for students, parents, educators, and others. On the homepage is a prominent rainbow-colored box titled “LGBT Bullying,” which links to LGBT-specific information and resources.

The conference also highlighted several private, national campaigns to address bullying, including ones from the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and the National PTA.

MTV said it would launch a new coalition — of which the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will be part — to fight bullying and intolerance online.

And Facebook said it would soon enhance the anti-bullying resources in its online Safety Center. It will also create a “Social Reporting” system so that, when people report content that violates Facebook policies, harassing content can be removed quickly, and parents or teachers can be notified.

Already, the administration has taken several steps to address bullying:

The Departments of Education, Justice, HHS, Agriculture, Defense and the Interior formed a federal task force on bullying in 2009, and convened the first-ever National Summit on Bullying in August 2010.

• The Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools awarded $38.8 million in grants to 11 states last October as part of a new Safe and Supportive Schools program. The program requires states to survey students, family and staff about school safety issues, including bullying, and direct grant money where there is the greatest need.

• The Department of Education issued guidance to all school officials last  October, reminding them that federal law requires schools to take action against bullying — including gender-based and sexual harassment of LGBT students.

• The Department of Education issued a memo to all chief state school officers last December providing examples of effective state anti-bullying laws as a reference for developing or revising their own.

• HHS launched a Stop Bullying Now! campaign for students 5 to 18 years old, with tool kits to help youth mentor younger children about bullying prevention.

Legislation

Members of Congress also announced several pieces of anti-bullying legislation this week.

Sens. Bob Casey, D-Penn., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.,  reintroduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act on Tuesday, March 8, which would require schools and districts receiving federal funds to implement anti-bullying programs and to report data on incidents of bullying and harassment, including bullying done through electronic communication.

The programs must specifically include bullying and harassment based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of students and those with whom they associate, among other attributes.

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Calif., said she will soon introduce a House version of the bill, as she did last session.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J.,  on Thursday March 10 reintroduced the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which establishes similar anti-bullying requirements for colleges and universities receiving federal student aid.

The bill is named after a gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide last September after two other students videotaped him in an intimate encounter with another man and broadcast the video online.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduce the Student Non-Discrimination Act on Thursday, which states that elementary and secondary schools must not discriminate against students on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in any program or activity receiving federal funds, or risk losing those funds.

“Discrimination,” under SNDA, includes harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  Kevin Thomas

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