Starting Date: 04-09-2005
Medford, Massachusetts 02155
United StatesTufts 8th Annual Safe Colleges Conference.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues are at the forefront of mainstream American culture as never before. You can hardly open a newspaper or watch the news without hearing about the debate over gay marriage, and dozens of questions follow, from adoption to whether being LGBT is a choice. The issues addressed by the mainstream media represent only a small portion of the issues that affect LGBT individuals, however. The needs of LGBT youth in particular are not often addressed adequately.
The passage of 11 state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage this election season further highlights the importance of fostering open dialogue and activism around these topics. While some college campuses address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty, and staff, many are still sorely lacking in the resources they provide. Tufts University has been a forerunner in the field of LGBT issues to ensure that students continue to feel safe and accepted.
The Safe Colleges Conference provides a safe space for LGBT students, faculty and administrators who do not attend institutions with the same supportive, welcoming atmosphere as Tufts, and empowers them to change their institutions for the better using the tools, information and connections they gain at the conference. The conference program also makes available academic topics in queer theory that many colleges and universities still do not offer as part of their curricula. The result is obvious in the evaluations received from past conferences: One 2004 participant wrote, “I feel that [Safe Colleges] has expanded my horizons and helped me open my mind.” Another called it “informative, academic and socially responsive…brings people together.”
The Tufts University LGBT Center first hosted and organized the Safe Colleges conference in 1998. The conference has grown from an attendance of 100 in 1998 to over 400 in 2004. On April 9, 2005, college students, staff, faculty, and administrators from the Northeast will gather again at Tufts University for the Safe Colleges 2005 conference. Throughout the course of this one-day event, participants will engage in dialogue with significant figures in the LGBT community.
The conference has brought notable individuals to Tufts such as Mary Bonauto in 2003, who argued for the plaintiffs in the gay marriage case Goodrich v. Dept of Public Health before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and Barbara Smith in 2004, African American feminist and co-author of Combahee River Collective Statement, to deliver keynote addresses. Other keynote speakers have included Keith Boyken, author and former special assistant to President Clinton, Kate Bornstein, acclaimed author and performance artist, and Leslie Feinberg, renowned grassroots activist and journalist.
Geographical Scope: Regional