" width="200" height="251" />Equality Weekend 2009 takes place Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 20. Congressman John Lewis [D-GA] will serve as the keynote speaker for the Equality Gala Dinner, and Rep. Patricia Todd from the Alabama State Legislature will be the honorary event chair and opening session speaker. The focus of the weekend will be “raising the visibility of individuals denied equality and access to the legal benefits and protections afforded those not marginalized by attitudes and laws focused upon race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientaiton, gender identity and other personal characteristics.” The daylong schedule of workshops and panel discussions scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, includes sessions on workplace equality, safe schools, transgender concerns, racism, youth activism and the election of gay and gay-supportive candidates. Admission is free for the opening session, 12 issue-based seminars and six caucuses. Individual tickets for the gala dinner with John Lewis cost $70; Sunday brunch at the Redmont Hotel, which includes live entertainment by the Politically Incorrect Cabaret, costs $35. A weekend ticket, good for admission to all of the priced events, costs $125.
Below is a selection of the programs taking place during Equality Weekend. This roster is not complete, but the entire schedule, along with biographical information about the participants, is online at www.equalityweekend.org.
MORNING WORKSHOPS • Sat. Sept. 19 • 10-11:30 a.m.
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mandy Carter approaches erasing racism with a workshop on the intersection of race, gender and sexual orientation, imagining the possibility of Alabama’s LGBT community emerging as key leadership on this important issue. Carter is one of the country’s leading African-American lesbian activists. She has a 40-year movement history of social, racial and “lesbigaytrans” justice organizing. Committed to multi-racial multi-issue organizing, Carter attributes her success to the influences of both the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee and the pacifist-based War Resisters League. She helped found two groundbreaking organizations: Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC).
Equality for LGBT employees in the state of Alabama varies widely and depends on employer policies. The workshop, conducted by Lori Stabler, Equality Alabama Board member and chair of the Workplace Equality Project, and Josh Burford, staff member at the University of Alabama, will look at how LGBT employees and allies are being treated on the job and discuss what we can do to improve acceptance and move toward a fully inclusive environment.
Award-winning blogger Pam Spaulding,will present programs on electronic activism and other issues related to the equality movement in Alabama and the nation. Pam Spaulding is the editor and publisher of Pam’s House Blend (pamshouseblend.com), honored as “Best LGBT Blog” in the 2005 and 2006 Weblog Awards. The Blend, which averages 120,000 visitors a month, was launched in July 2004 as a personal response to the anti-gay state of the political landscape. With roots in North Carolina and New York City, Pam considers herself to have “dual citizenship” status as a Southerner and a Yankee -- and brings that perspective and voice to her blog, which focuses on current political events, LGBT and women’s rights, the influence of the far right and race relations.
Christine P. Sun, Southeast Regional Senior Counsel for the ACLU lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender project will present a workshop session on parenting rights and issues, including adoption, for the LGBT community.
Alabama School of Fine Arts senior Anna Turkett and Hoover High School junior Scout O’Beirne have planned the youth workshop as a comprehensive session focusing on the hardships of the young GLBT community in schools, politics, and media. It also focuses on how to combat the hardships and stereotypes youth are faced with. They offer teens a support system and guidelines to enact positive change in their communities, especially concerning GLBT rights.
AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS • Sat. Sept. 19 • 1-2:30 p.m.
“How Safe Are Our Schools?”
Dr. Glenda Elliott, Dr. Carly Friedman, Gloria Anderson, and Rhonda Thomason offer a workshop focused on ways students, school personnel, parents, and concerned community members can help foster safe school environments for sexual minority youth. Included in the discussion will be a report on a survey of high school students in Alabama related to GLBT issues in schools as well as the legal responsibilities of school personnel to protect all students from harassment, bullying, and discrimination.
“Why Gender Identity Matters”
Allyson Morgan, J.D. “Ox” Freeman, Gina Stanley, and Robyn Hall will present a panel discussion intended to inform on the topic of how gender identity is different from sexual orientation and provide support for resolving transgender issues. Also covered will be health care access and treatment of transgendered patients. Topics will include barriers to access (and local progress in smashing them down), diagnostic criteria, the Standards of Care, steps in the triadic process for transition, options in sexual reassignment surgery, and threats on the horizon. This workshop is part of the project on transgender equality jointly sponsored by Equality Alabama and Alabama Gender Alliance.
Rev. Felicia Fontaine explains how Soulforce Equality Rides, protests at denominational conferences, and acts of civil disobedience are public demonstrations of “soul force” or satyagraha in group practice. In addition there are boundless means for individuals to implement these principles or Active Non-Violent Resistance to generate cognitive dissonance in our everyday lives. This session will introduce personal soul force and participants will have a chance to examine the possibilities in their own world and lives.
Equality Weekend is scheduled for Sept. 18-20. While Equality Weekend events will take place at a number of venues, all of the educational programs and the gala dinner will take place at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center, 3660 Grand View Parkway, off Highway 280. A complete schedule, including complete descriptions of the panel discussions and biographical information on the participants, is online at www.equalityweekend.org.