SOGI conference 2015 to promote safe schools for LGBT students

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 fourth annual Michigan SOGI Education Conference on Friday, Feb. 6.

The event, which takes place at the Auburn Hills Marriott at Centerpoint in Pontiac, will feature expert presentations, roundtable discussions, best practices for integrating SOGI issues into school and work, and ongoing networking opportunities – all focused on meeting the needs of GLBTQQI students, staff, faculty and administrators.

“This may be our best lineup of presenters yet,” said Dr. Timothy Larrabee, associate professor and director of the SOGI Initiative Taskforce. “We have drawn presenters from across the country. Our keynote speaker hails from Washington. A nationally recognized expert in ‘trans’ rights, Jenn Burleton, is flying in from Oregon, and we have several presenters joining us from Illinois.”

He added, “At the same time, we have not lost our local focus. The Southeast Michigan chapter of GLSEN is back to discuss starting and maintaining gay-straight alliances. We will hear from students in Novi. Experts from University of Michigan-Dearborn, Wayne State University and Michigan State University will be here. We will also discuss the intersections of SOGI issues with race, religion, health and education.”

Kris Hermanns, executive director of Pride Foundation, will present the keynote address “The New Frontier: Ensuring Safe Schools for all LGBT Students.” Hermanns has more than 20 years of experience as a strategist, fundraiser and nonprofit executive. Before joining Pride Foundation, she was the deputy director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Prior to that, she served as a program officer with The Rhode Island Foundation. In addition, Hermanns also worked as associate director for Brown University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service. She has served on the board of directors of Funders for LGBTQ Issues and is a Green Bay Packers shareholder.

This year’s emcee is Steve Spreitzer, president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable. Spreitzer has held various leadership positions in the organization, having served as director of programs, and managed the Roundtable’s Interfaith efforts and Walk2gether Michigan. He has also worked in community mental health, criminal justice ministry and legislative advocacy. His work has gained recognition from the World Sabbath for Religious Reconciliation, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, the Catholic Youth Organization and the Hindu American Foundation.

The Auburn Hills Marriott at Centerpoint is located at 3600 Centerpoint Parkway in Pontiac. To view a map, along with other hotel information, visit the website.

Registration for the event, which includes a breakfast and lunch, is $100 for the general public and $25 for full-time students. Organizations wishing to host an information table can do so for $50. Sponsorships and donations can be arranged through the online registration site at oakland.edu/SOGI/register. Online registration closes Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m.

On-site registration on the day of the event is payable by credit card or electronic check (ACH) only. For additional information, visit the conference website at oakland.edu/SOGI, or contact the SOGI Initiative Office at (248) 370-4614 or sogi@oakland.edu. Follow conference developments on Twitter at @OUSOGI, #SOGICON.

About Oakland University

Oakland University is a doctoral, research-intensive university located on 1,443 acres of scenic land in the cities of Rochester and Auburn Hills in Oakland County, Michigan. The University has 135 bachelor’s degree programs and 135 graduate degree and certificate programs. Oakland is a nationally recognized public university with more than 20,500 students. Academics include programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration, School of Education and Human Services, School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing.