UNK symposium brings national experts dedicated to LGBTQ mental health, public policy issues

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is hosting a new conference dedicated to LGBTQ issues.

The LGBTQ Research and Community Symposium, scheduled for April 18 in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room, will bring national experts, UNK faculty, staff and students and community members together to discuss a variety of topics impacting LGBTQ individuals, with an emphasis on mental health and public policy.

Paul Lisicky
Paul Lisicky
Heath Fogg Davis
Heath Fogg Davis

“This is an opportunity to hear from an incredibly diverse array of people and learn about the struggles LGBTQ minorities face and ways we can improve our community,” said event organizer Patrick Arnold, a learning strategies coordinator and instructor in UNK’s Academic Success Offices.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, features student panels, sessions on transgender health and anxiety and depression in the LGBTQ community. Heath Fogg Davis, an associate professor of political science and director of the gender, sexuality and women’s studies program at Temple University, is the keynote speaker.

Davis, a transgender man, is a scholar-activist who seeks to alleviate discrimination and inequality and a consultant who works with companies and organizations to develop and implement trans-inclusive policies. He authored “Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?” and “Building Gender-Inclusive Organizations: The Workbook.”

Davis, who teaches courses on anti-discrimination law, democratic political theory and the politics of race, gender and sexuality, will present “What would a trans-inclusive society look like?” during the UNK event.

The symposium, sponsored by more than a dozen UNK departments, also includes a keynote author, Paul Lisicky, who wrote “The Narrow Door,” a New York Times Editors’ Choice, as well as “Unbuilt Projects,” “The Burning House,” “Famous Builder” and “Lawnboy.”

A 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, Lisicky has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, James Michener/Copernicus Society and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he has served on the writing committee since 2000. He has taught in the creative writing programs at Cornell University, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College and The University of Texas at Austin, and currently serves as an associate professor in the Master of Fine Arts program at Rutgers University-Camden.

UNK students will present class projects on Kearney’s inclusivity and share their experiences as members of the LGBTQ community.

The conference also provides a training opportunity for mental health practitioners, counselors and other professionals, with continuing education credits available through three different sessions.

“We know LGBTQ individuals are at a higher risk for depression and mental health issues, in addition to lacking social support services,” Arnold said. “We wanted to provide a day of training for professionals working with those communities.”

LGBTQ Research and Community Symposium
Thursday, April 18 – Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room

Beyond Trans Does Gender Matter?Narrow Door Book Cover8:30-9:30 a.m.
Registration, breakfast, coffee and book signing with Heath Fogg Davis (Room E)

9:30-10:45 a.m.
LGBTQ Counseling – Continuing Education Session 1 (Room E)
“Anxiety, Depression and the LGBTQ Community: Thriving Through the Challenges,” Debra Hope, professor of psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Student Panel (Room C/D)
“How Inclusive is Kearney, Nebraska? Student Projects,” UNK spring LGBTQ studies class

11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Keynote Address – Continuing Education Session 2 (Room E)
“What would a trans-inclusive society look like?” Heath Fogg Davis, associate professor of political science, Temple University

12:30-1:45 p.m.
Lavender Leadership Luncheon (Room A/B)
Ceremony honoring UNK’s Lavender Graduates and Lavender Leaders

2-3:15 p.m.
Transgender Health – Continuing Education Session 3 (Room E)
“Supporting the Transgender Community,” Dawn Darling, licensed independent clinical social worker, Sunrise Therapy Services in Kearney
Student Panel (Room C/D)
“LGBTQ Experiences,” Queer Straight Alliance student organization

3:30-4:45 p.m.
Panel Discussion (Room C/D)
Heath Fogg Davis, Lorna Bracewell, former assistant professor of political science at UNK and current professor at Flagler College, student leaders and community activists

5-7 p.m.
Keynote Author and Reception (Room A/B)
Author Paul Lisicky, associate professor, Master of Fine Arts program at Rutgers University-Camden