On February 6, 2015 I attended the Michigan Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Issues (SOGI) in Education Conference at the Marriott Conference Center in Pontiac, MI, sponsored by Oakland University. The goal of SOGI is to provide a supportive climate for students, staff, faculty, and administrators, regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The intention of the conference is to increase awareness of the real life challenges faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex (GLBTQQI) people. The conference provided valuable information on support, educational outreach, and community events for those who identify as GLBTQQI.
I attended sessions pertaining to: gender diverse children and adolescents, conservative Christian beliefs and sexual orientation, parental issues in supporting a transgender child, and building a movement for Michigan Gay-Strait Alliances. I was especially moved by the session with author and mother, Jane Baker. She told the story of supporting her adult son through gender transition, while struggling to overcome deep anguish about it. She answered questions, explained terminology, and discussed the prevalence of transgender people.
I would like to thank MSP for sponsoring my attendance at the SOGI conference. I obtained a wealth of information about the GLBTQQI community that has given me a greater understanding of who they are and the many complex issues that they face. I am interested in working with adolescents and families in the future and these are issues that will surely come up often. In speaking with journalists, educators, and speakers at the conference, I’ve obtained information on many resources and support groups to refer my clients to. Parental support is essential for adolescents with gender identity issues. The information from the conference will also be very helpful in educating parents about what their child is experiencing and how to be as supportive as possible.
By Sophie Griesbeck (MA Student)