The Rainbow Resource Centre will be hosting StandOUT! The Third Annual Manitoba GSA Conference, taking place at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre (1808 Wellington Ave.) on Nov. 25, starting at 9 a.m.
Jared Star, youth program co-ordinator at the Rainbow Resource Centre, said the conference is open to people of all sexual orientations, and not just for individuals who identify as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning). However, registration for the event is closed.
Three-hundred fifty students and 100 educators and youth service providers are expected to attend the conference, a day which will consist of skill-building workshops and networking opportunities.
This year’s theme is "Our Voice", which Star said is inspired by anti-bullying legislation Bill 18.
"Not only is the presence of a GSA written into law, but it promotes safety and inclusion in a school environment, and it recognizes from a governmental position that GSAs have a positive influence and GSAs save lives," Star said. "Bill 18 means that youth have the opportunity to have their voice heard in a public forum."
The conference focuses on four key ideas: support, visibility, action, and pride. Star said if everyone used their voice, they could achieve those four things.
Star said there will be a discussion panel for teachers about the aforementioned Bill 18 at the event. The panel is called "Bill 18: What Happens From Here?" St. Vital MLA Nancy Allan, who is heavily involved in the province’s anti-bullying work, will be on the panel, as well as Paul Olson of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Corey Shefman of the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties.
"The panel will explore topics like, ‘What are the next steps?’ ‘Where do we go from there?’" Star elaborated.
The conference started three years ago so that GSAs from Manitoba and Northern Ontario could meet and connect.
"We planned this day where students and teachers would come from a variety of places to develop skills and to learn from each other," Star said.
Aside from the workshops, there will also be exhibition tables stacked with community resources for youth and teachers to check out. Transgendered musician Rae Spoon will also be the keynote speaker at the event.
Although the event is officially closed to any more attendees, Star said youth can still get involved with the Rainbow Resource Centre. Peer Project 4 Youth is the centre’s drop-in program for youth ages 13 to 21. It takes place on Monday and Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. at 170 Scott St., as well as on every third Saturday of the month. Youth of all sexual orientations are welcome.
For more information, visit rainbowresourcecentre.org or call 204-474-0212.