LGBTQ Student Life Sends Students to “Creating Change” Conference

“I believe the conference provided space to have conversations that aren’t really had within my department.”

By Anjali Dhillon

The Center for Identity and Inclusion’s LGBTQ Student Life Office sponsored 20 University students to attend the 28th annual Creating Change Conference, hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Based in Washington D.C., the National LGBTQ Task Force is a policy and advocacy organization that promotes social justice and equality for LGBTQ+ people. This year, it hosted its annual conference at the Hilton in Downtown Chicago.

According to the Creating Change 2016 Conference Program, a goal of the conference was to foster discussion about issues currently facing the LGBTQ+ community. “Together we will strategize and address critical issues facing our movement including: the increased targeting and murder of trans women of color; the growing number of queer youth who are experiencing homelessness; the continuation of punitive and ineffective disciplinary measures in our schools often targeting queer youth; and fighting for equal employment and housing protection for LGBTQ individuals,” the program reads.

The LGBTQ Student Life Office selected students for sponsorship through an online application. Out of 30 applicants, 20 students were chosen with regards to their involvement and investment in the LGBTQ+ communities on campus, their years at UChicago, and their commitment to issues of social justice and advocacy, according to Tobias Spears, the director of LGBTQ Student Life Office.

“[The Office] is dedicated to providing students with access to spaces where they can learn, grow, and network with others who are minoritized around gender and sexuality. In addition to this commitment, the proximity of Creating Change led us to dedicating funding and also programming to the conference,” Spears said.

Breeshia Turner, an M.Div./SSA dual-degree graduate student, said the conference had both positive and negative aspects.

“I believe the conference provided space to have conversations that aren’t really had within my department; I appreciate that. I think it was more intersectional, more deliberate, than what I am used at U of C. However there were moments in which I feel like people of color weren’t adequately represented in terms of the panels,” she said.

As a part of the sponsorship, all student participants are required to attend a Creating Change Mixer early February, in which they will share more of their experiences from the conference.