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OU Hosting Conference on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

Third annual conference to take place Feb. 7 in Pontiac.

Dr. Timothy Larrabee, Oakland University associate professor, is director of SOGI Initiative Taskforce. Photo credit: Oakland University
Dr. Timothy Larrabee, Oakland University associate professor, is director of SOGI Initiative Taskforce. Photo credit: Oakland University

With a goal to create more supportive and inclusive educational environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (GLBTQQI) individuals, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Initiative of Oakland University's School of Education and Human Services will host the third annual Michigan SOGI Education Conference on Friday, Feb. 7.

The event will feature expert presentations, roundtable discussions, informative workshops, dynamic work sessions and networking opportunities – all focused on meeting the needs of GLBTQQI students, staff, faculty and administrators. Organizers are pleased to see the conference gaining stature among a growing audience that includes both local and national supporters.

"In this, our third year, we are thrilled to be gaining national attention," said Dr. Timothy Larrabee, associate professor and director of the SOGI Initiative Taskforce. "We will have sessions facilitated by experts from the internationally acclaimed Human Rights Campaignand the American Institutes for Research, both based in Washington, D.C., and we will also have a session led by a doctoral student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, a Catholic University and the only Spiritan Institution of higher education in the nation."

He added, "All the while, we will remain very Michigan-focused with participation from the state's leading organizations, including Eastern Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland, Saginaw Valley State, and Wayne State universities, Equality Michigan, GLSEN SE Michigan, HAVEN, KICK, and Rochester Community Schools, among others."

 This year's emcee is Jerry Peterson, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center. Peterson joined the organization in June 2013, bringing more than 30 years of leadership experience in the non-profit sector, with several years dedicated to working with lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

Delivering the event's keynote address will be Kisha Webster, director of education and community engagement at the Human Rights Campaign. Recognized as a committed educator and advocate for children and families, Webster provides consultation, training and technical assistance to professional educators and other key personnel charged with utilizing Welcoming Schools within their school communities. She is also responsible for developing Welcoming Schools materials and training tools.

The 2014 Michigan SOGI Conference will take place from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint, located at 3600 Centerpoint Parkway in Pontiac. To view a map, along with other hotel information, visit the website.

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