Drake Law School hosted a series of workshops under a Legal Track at the 7th Annual Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth this past spring. LGBTQ youth legal issues are becoming increasingly important in the discussion of protecting youth from bullying, knowing individual rights, and general life planning. This was the first year for a legal track at the Annual Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth. The conference is organized by Iowa Safe Schools, which was founded in respond to the issues of bullying, harassment, and discrimination faced by Iowa’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) student population.
Professor Maura Strassberg, who teaches the Sexuality and Law Seminar at the Law School, found the conference a “wonderful opportunity to help educate the LGBTQ community and its many educator allies about the rights of students and teachers, and to bring home to law students the difficult experiences many students and teachers have. It has inspired me to think about additional ways the Law School can get involved in advocating for students who are bullied or discriminated against.Drake Law School faculty and students organized and presented three workshops at Cartwright Hall. The law school workshops included: Legal Responses to Bullying of LGBTQ Students: The Safe Schools Act and Beyond, presented by Iowa Department of Education Legal Counsel Carol Greta and Professor Brent Pattison; LGBTQ Advocacy in School: Pro-Gay Speech, Anti-Gay Speech, and the Line Between Harassment, Proselytizing and Free Speech, presented by Iowa Department of Education Legal Counsel Carol Greta, Iowa Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Randall Wilson, and Iowa Association of School Boards Attorney Mary Gannon; and LGBTQ Life and the Law, presented by 1L Student Beatriz Mate-Kodjo, 2L Student Elizabeth James, and 3L students Bridget Goldbeck, Erin Schneider, and Mike Traxinger.
“Iowa is fairly progressive with regard to legal rights of lesbian and gay residents,” Mate-Kodjo commented, “however, it was important that we let conference participants know that each state has different legal paradigms in place that can facilitate or obstruct life narratives of LGBTQ persons.”
Founded in 2006, the Governors Conference is the only event of its kind nationally. Over 500 individuals from nearly 90 Iowa communities attend annually including Iowa students, college students, professors, educators, counselors, administrators, policy makers, parents, faith leaders, youth-serving professionals, and those who care about the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth.
The mission of the Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth is to a) engage and educate students, educators, parents, community leaders, youth-serving professionals, policy makers, and others concerned about issues relevant to the LGBTQ community, and b) encourage networking and activism to inspire our communities to promote diversity, equality, and social justice.
The 8th Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth will take place on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013.