NKU opens doors for gay youth summit

Tony Redell

Northern Kentucky University hosted the 3rd annual Greater Cincinnati Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (GLBTQ) Youth Summit Oct. 25 from 8:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. in the University Center.

The goal of the event was to build youth leadership and create a safe space for adults, high school and college students to convene and learn more about alternative lifestyles, according to event co-chair Shawn Walker.

“Besides actually having the summit, which we feel is important, the other goal of the summit is throughout the year to build leadership, especially gay leadership, within the community, because that’s something that’s really lacking,” he said.

He said it is important to create a safe space for homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender youth to educate themselves and meet others who share similar experiences.

Co-chair Caitlin Arnest said many heterosexuals, including parents and friends of homosexuals, attend the event to show support for their loved ones by learning about the issues that face them.

“It’s for everybody to come and learn about these issues,” she said.

The GLBTQ summit featured 24 workshops that covered issues such as domestic abuse, political activism, legal problems, religion and gay parenting.

Writing and craft workshops were also offered.

In addition to providing education, Walker said the summit, held annually at local universities, is also designed as a “one-stop shopping” resource to to show high school students what organizations are available to them in college.

Citybeat columnist Kathy Wilson was the evening’s keynote speaker, followed by a social event with a jazz band, coffee house, and an open mic session with Queer-aoke.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is the main sponsor of the summit. GLSEN provides organization and support for the event, Walker said.

The summit is funded by donations from individuals, organizations and local corporations, according to Arnest.

Toyota was a major financial sponsor this year, and NKU donated the space for the summit for the second year in a row.