In the hopes of giving a greater voice to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, a local group will hold a summit this election season.
The first of its kind in Lawrence, the LGBT Summit will bring together members of the LGBT community, school board and City Commission candidates, and others interested in LGBT issues.
“We’ve never taken a proactive approach to getting our voice out there in the community,” said Scott Criqui, vice-chair of the Lawrence/Douglas County Chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition. “With the coming election, it would be great if candidates could see, here is our voice and here is what is important to us.”
Sponsored by the local Kansas Equality Coalition chapter, the summit will be held from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. March 29 at Maceli’s, 1031 N.H.
On tap for discussion will be the goal of convincing city of Lawrence leaders to include gender identity in its anti-discrimination policy. Such an effort failed in 2010 when the city’s Human Relations Commission voted against the measure.
The commission’s reluctance to change the policy spurred a conversation that a summit was needed.
“How do we educate the community, and specifically community leaders, on LGBT issues to give them more of a scope on what the LGBT community is here?” Criqui said.
The answer was to host a summit.
The summit will also look at school bullying and the positive effects an inclusive community can have on mental health and economic development.
Along with speakers, a candidate mixer will be held.
The summit also will be a chance for LGBT people to learn about steps they can take if they are feeling bullied or discriminated against.
While cities throughout the country have held similar summits, Criqui said he knows of just one other city in Kansas — Manhattan — that has held a summit like this.
He hopes that will change.
“Lawrence is a lot more accepting than other communities,” Criqui said. “Our hope is to be a role model with this event.”