Wash students attend governor’s conference on LGBTQ youth

Riley DeWolf, Staff Reporter

On April 25, 2016, the 11th Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth took place at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Des Moines.  

Since 2006, the conference’s primary goal has been to increase awareness for issues concerning the LGBTQ community. Each year, they do so by engaging and educating thousands of individuals across the state.  

Bullying is often a problem in middle and high schools, and the many people who make up the LGBTQ community often face discrimination, are bullied, and/or are harassed.  Students and teachers were invited from all over the state to attend this conference and expand their knowledge on the LGBTQ community.

Students involved with Wash’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Club decided to gather students (not just involved with the club) to go to this year’s conference.  There, our peers broadened their view on LGBTQ rights, bullying and sexual harassment, and LGBTQ discrimination.

Chris Kroeger, ’17, and Patrick Wilkie, ’17, are two of the students who had the opportunity to attend this event.  Neither of them has attended the conference before.  “The whole conference was made up of a lot of workshops that basically promoted a lot of awareness,” Kroeger said.

Some topics of the workshops varied from the roles of religious laws and social media in the community.  “We met a lot of active speakers who are trying to make a difference, such as Lea DeLaria, [an actress on “Orange is the New Black”]” Wilkie said.

This was also Maggie Wright,’17’s, first time attending the conference.  “I think the main thing the conference accomplished was a greater awareness of bullying and LGBT rights in high schools in Iowa. And going to the conference helped me understand the issues that occur to day and made me feel like I supported the issues in a more active way,” Wright said.