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Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Issues Conference: What members had to say interviews by Bill Guy T he first ever CTA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Issues Conference held in Palm Springs in October addressed GLBT issues involving educators, education support professionals, students and the commu- nity. Here’s what CTA members had to say about the conference. Lisa Vaughn Mount Pleasant Education Association As a school counselor, I work with many students who struggle with sexual identity. So professional- ly, being able to gain knowledge and strategies about how to best support them was very rewarding. Personally, the conference gave me an opportunity to support colleagues who often find it unsafe to be open about their sexual orientation in the workplace. The workshops on bullying, teen suicide and unconscious bias were engaging and full of wonderful materials for me to take back to my colleagues and to use with my students. Carol McDaniel Riverside County Office Teachers Association, alternative education program itinerant specialist/resource specialist The GLBT conference was a wonderful experience! All the attendees not only wanted to be there them- selves, but they welcomed fellow attendees without reservations based on color, age, sex, sexual orientation, race or disability. We openly discussed personal experiences, focusing on how we could apply our learning to our students and their situations. Laura Alvarez Mount Pleasant Education Association, Grade 5 dual immersion and MPEA past president The conference gave light to the growing problems affecting my students on a daily basis, and some of the workshops actually gave me strategies to use when GLBT students come to me for help. In northern Califor- nia, we are facing more and more hate crimes and suicides due to the ignorance of GLTB issues. As teachers, we need to unite and help all of our students, not just those with whom we may be more comfortable. Mark Allen Mount Pleasant Education Association, K-5 math coach Despite the weekend being too short, the conference was great on several levels. For those familiar with the multitude of issues addressed, it was a helpful refresher of all the things we often take for granted. For everyone else, it was a great introduction to issues, both obvious and otherwise, that GLBT students and staff face on a daily basis. Eleanor Juanita Evans GLBT Issues Advisory Committee, Conference Planning Committee, GLBT Caucus co-chair This conference was a groundbreaking opportunity to obtain honest solutions to deal with GLBT issues, safe school concerns, and human rights discrimination that confront not only GLBT students and members, but our entire community. It represents one more step towards achieving equality and justice for all. The 207 conference attendees had wonderful opportunities to learn how to become better advocates for positive change and to pro- mote respect, acceptance, and empathy for all students and members. A significant number of conference attend- ees were attending their very first CTA conference, so the GLBT Conference also enabled new voices to be heard. NOVEMBER 2009 | 27 CTA photos by Jonathan Goldman

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