HRC Blog

HRC Foundation’s Major Conference Supporting LGBTQ Youth To Be Held in Portland, Oregon

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association, is proud to announce that it will be holding its nationally acclaimed Time to THRIVE conference in Portland, OR., fromFeb. 13-15, 2015. In its second year, the conference will address safety, inclusion and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth as well as bring together a wide range of youth-service professionals to discuss the best practices for serving LGBTQ youth and their families in schools, community centers, healthcare systems and beyond.

Last year’s inaugural Time to THRIVE conference, held in Las Vegas, featured a robust line-up of speakers – including Chelsea Clinton, Lance Bass, Betty DeGeneres and Magic Johnson’s son EJ. In addition, actress Ellen Page moved millions by coming out in a deeply inspirational speech that quickly went viral. 

During the three-day 2013 conference, attendees chose from more than 50 workshops presented by more than 40 organizations. Workshop topics ranged from creating safe and inclusive schools, to advancing HIV education and  supporting transgender and gender-expansive youth. Attendees gained cultural competency, learned current and emerging best practices, and gathered resources to take back home to their communities.  

“Hosting Time to THRIVE in Portland will help us reach out to a new audience of teachers, counselors and others working with youth in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin. “While we are making great steps toward equality across the country, there is still so much to do to ensure that LGBTQ youth can thrive. Through the Time to THRIVEconference, HRC is working to ensure that LGBTQ youth everywhere have the opportunity to live proudly without fear of marginalization or discrimination.”

“When it comes to advocating for LGBT youth, Portland is full of inspiration,” said Vincent Pompei, Conference Chair and Director of HRC Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Project. “From a statewide coalition that’s advancing the implementation of the state’s anti-bullying law, to community-based support groups like those found at Q Center, the work in Portland is really a model for others. We’re proud to be bringing this conference to a community that has so much to teach.”

The HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Project is also partnering with the Oregon Safe Schools Coalition as a sponsor and supporter of upcoming trainings across Oregon. During a training Aug. 4 in Portland, the Q Center will also be presenting on Oregon’s anti-bullying law and their work to ensure its implementation.

“Every Student deserves a safe, inclusive and affirming environment. OEA is thrilled that the 2nd annual Time to THRIVE conference is coming to Portland," said Hanna Vaandering, president of the Association and an elementary physical education teacher. "We encourage all those who work closely with youth to attend and learn how we can work together for the good of all students in Oregon."

According to Growing Up LGBT In America, HRC Foundation’s 2012 survey of more than 10,000 LGBTQ young people, LGBTQ youth in the United States still face unique challenges. Only half of LGBTQ youth surveyed say that they “fit in” in their community; LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to be verbally harassed at school; and 63 percent of LGBTQ youth say they will need to move to another part of the country to feel accepted.

"As a young LGBTQ person living here in Portland, I see a great need for educators and professionals working with youth to be prepared,” said Giovanni Blair McKenzie, executive director and founder of Queer Intersections Portland. “LGBTQ youth are complex beings with struggles that intersect with things like their race and gender expression. It is important that we provide the people who work with these youth the knowledge and training needed to create spaces that are safe, respectful, and empowering, instead of adding to the forces that are pushing them back."

Held over President’s Day Weekend, the conference will take place at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower. Hilton has earned a 100 percent in HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates American workplaces based on their commitment to LGBT equality. Portland is also one of 25 cities in the country to earn a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide evaluation of LGBTQ inclusivity in municipal law.

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