At­lanta LGBT In­stitue fall lineup

Panel dis­cus­sion and ed­u­ca­tion sum­mit on agenda

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

Now that The LGBT In­sti­tute at the Na­tional Cen­ter for Civil and Hu­man Rights has opened and de­buted an At­lanta LGBT his­tory ex­hibit, it has lined up pro­gram­ming for the fall that will ex­plore the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s core ar­eas of em­pha­sis: ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment, pub­lic health and well­ness and crim­i­nal jus­tice and safety.

First up is The Global-Lo­cal Con­nec­tion For LGBT Rights, a panel dis­cus­sion and com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tion on LGBT rights in the South and around the world tak­ing place on Novem­ber 2 at the Cen­ter. The event is the re­sult of a part­ner­ship be­tween The LGBT In­sti­tute and Amer­i­can Jewish World Ser­vice, the fourth-largest U.S.-based fun­der of in­ter­na­tional LGBT work.

The panel will in­clude Mandy Carter, co-founder of South­ern­ers On New Ground (SONG) and the Na­tional Black Jus­tice Coali­tion (NBJC), and Ruth Messinger, pres­i­dent and CEO of Amer­i­can Jewish World Ser­vice. Carter will pro­vide a re­gional and na­tional per­spec­tive while Messinger will pro­vide a global per­spec­tive. As for the lo­cal per­spec­tive, or­ga­niz­ers are call­ing on com­mu­nity mem­bers to pro­vide that by tak­ing an ac­tive part of the dis­cus­sion.

“This is our first in­tro­duc­tion of the three ar­eas that the LGBT In­sti­tute wants to fo­cus on in the com­ing years, and it’s the first time that the pub­lic has the op­por­tu­nity to join one of the stake­holder groups that fo­cus on those three ar­eas,” says Ryan Roe­mer­man, in­terim ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of The LGBT In­sti­tute.

It will be Carter’s first visit to the Cen­ter, and she plans to ad­dress one is­sue in par­tic­u­lar: pas­sage of the Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act.

“To me in terms of our LGBT move­ment, there’s more on our agenda than get­ting mar­ried. Now we can have that con­ver­sa­tion in a fuller kind of way,” she says. “Now that we can le­gally get mar­ried, it goes like this. Mar­ried on a Sun­day, lose my job on a Mon­day. That’s crit­i­cal.”

Carter cites women’s health is­sues as an­other is­sue of im­por­tance, as well as in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity.

“What I find in­ter­est­ing as some­one who’s a woman, some­one who is African-Amer­i­can, and some­one who is a les­bian is how many of us wake up ev­ery day in those in­ter­sec­tions,” she says. “So when you think about ed­u­ca­tion, jobs, health, es­pe­cially crim­i­nal and so­ci­etal jus­tice, each part of me re­lates to that in one way or an­other.”

The ma­jor­ity of Teach For Amer­ica’s [TFA] up­com­ing Deep South LGBTQ Ed­u­ca­tion Sum­mit will oc­cur at Georgia State Univer­sity, with work­shops, panel dis­cus­sions, a job fair and more tak­ing place there the evening of Nov. 21 and all day Nov. 22.

But first up, the LGBT In­sti­tute is part­ner­ing with Teach For Amer­ica’s LGBTQ Com­mu­nity Ini­tia­tive to host the event’s reg­is­tra­tion at the Na­tional Cen­ter for Civil and Hu­man Rights. The day will also in­clude a panel dis­cus­sion mod­er­ated by Chris­tian Zsilavetz from Pride School At­lanta, as well as tours of the Cen­ter.

“[TFA] re­ally wanted to ground their work in the civil rights move­ment and that’s what’s hap­pened, so it’s a great way to spur dis­cus­sion,” Roe­mer­man says.

The sum­mit is one of four re­gional ed­u­ca­tion sum­mits across the coun­try, and the largest of any of them, ac­cord­ing to Tim’m West, se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of TFA’s LGBTQ Com­mu­nity Ini­tia­tive and a mem­ber of the LGBT In­sti­tute’s pro­gram­ming board.

“A lot of the so­cial jus­tice ac­tivism that’s hap­pen­ing around LGBT com­mu­ni­ties is hap­pen­ing in the South be­cause I think the laws are a lot more op­pres­sive,” West says. “Peo­ple are more en­er­gized and mo­bi­lized to do things [in the South] than peo­ple in the North­east and on the West Coast.”

There are a num­ber of top­ics that will be cov­ered at the sum­mit, in­clud­ing “no promo homo” laws, or laws that for­bid teach­ers to dis­cuss LGBT is­sues in a pos­i­tive way (or at all) in the class­room.

“There are his­tor­i­cal fig­ures, there are var­i­ous con­ver­sa­tions that LGBTQ peo­ple made, and if I can’t say that Ba­yard Rustin was a gay man that led the [1963 March On Wash­ing­ton] when I’m talk­ing about civil rights, then I’m not giv­ing my stu­dents a proper ed­u­ca­tion, and I’m cer­tainly not in a po­si­tion to af­firm those stu­dents who them­selves iden­tify as gay,” West says.

The sum­mit will also ad­dress the high tru­ancy and dropout rates of LGBT stu­dents and in par­tic­u­lar LGBT stu­dents of color.

“This is our first in­tro­duc­tion of the three ar­eas that the LGBT In­sti­tute wants to fo­cus on in the com­ing years, and it’s the first time that the pub­lic has the op­por­tu­nity to join one of the stake­holder groups that fo­cus on those three ar­eas.”

—Ryan Roe­mer­man, in­terim ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of The LGBT In­sti­tute

Mandy Carter, co-founder of South­ern­ers On New Ground and the Na­tional Black Jus­tice Coali­tion, will take part in a panel dis­cus­sion at the Na­tional Cen­ter for Civil and Hu­man Rights on Nov. 2. (Cour­tesy photo)

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