This year marked the 5th annual Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) LGBT+ College Conference. What first started in 2014 has blossomed into, not only a statewide conference, but also a a time to recognize outstanding individuals who are helping to shape and strengthen our community.
The three day conference was kicked off with welcoming remarks from Jeffry Porter, Director of the Office of Research Services at MTSU followed by the Tennovation Keynote presented by Keven Lewis from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at MTSU. What followed was three days of breakout sessions, plenary discussions, strategy sessions, and issues summits all centered around this year’s theme of All Identities Bridging the Divide. This year’s conference placed emphasis on the transition from the classroom to the workplace and discussion of how people of all identities can integrate various business climates.
Earlier this year Dr. William Langston, a psychology professor at MTSU and faculty advisor of MT Lambda, told Focus Middle Tennessee, “If universities are saying ‘We think we’re doing as much as we can,’ and employers are saying ‘We don’t think you’re doing anything,’ and students are saying ‘Neither one of you are getting it right’ … everybody get together so we can talk about it and realign.”
Peppered throughout the weekend were events meant to engage all conference goers. From the documentary keynote of Codebreaker: The Life and Legacy of Alan Turing to an open mic night to a conference film festival, there was something for everyone.
Rounding out the conference portion of the weekend was a keynote presented by Georgiann Davis, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Her presentation was titled Ask Me Who I Am: Intersex in Contemporary America, and focused on the terminology in the intersex community and the importance of respecting people’s terminological preferences.
The weekend concluded with the LGBT+ College Conference Awards Dinner. The keynote address was given by Ms. Beverly Watts, Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. Ms. Christy Osborne was the 2018 honoree for the Wayne C. Rosing LGBT+ Advocacy Award. Other award winners included: the Terry Whiteside Ally in Diversity Award winner Ms. Sharon Collins with PFLAG Franklin, the Community Excellence Award winner Ms. Kayla Gore with OUTMemphis, the Diane Easter Corporate Engagement Award winner Mr. Greg Cason, the Academic Advancement Award winner Ms. Bonnie Johnson with the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and the Civic Advocacy Award winner…. our very own Ms. Selena Haynes with Focus Middle Tennessee.
This years conference also saw the awarding for the first scholarships awarded from the Lambda Scholarship fund which is made possible by a generous endowment.
For more information about MTSU, MT Lambda, and the LGBT+ College Conference, please visit: www.mtsu.edu/lgbt.
To make a contribution to the LGBT+ Programs and Staffing Fund, please visit: mtsu.edu/give AND enter LGBT+ PROGRAMS AND STAFFING FUND in the comments section.