Four Holmes students attend Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth

Four students from the Holmes GSA attended the Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth in Des Moines on Friday, April 28. 

According to Jeremy Prouty, one of the teachers that attended the conference with the GSA, the conference educates youth about the empowerment of the LGBTQ community. “The Annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth is geared toward empowering LGBTQ youth and allies. This empowerment comes in many forms.  Keynote speakers have experiences and knowledge to share. Presentations inform attendees about their rights, resources that are available to them and strategies for surviving and thriving in communities and environments that are not always healthy and supportive. There were also a great number of schools, government agencies, businesses and organizations who had booths set up to both show their support of LGBTQ youth and to provide information to them. These booths also provided swag gifts like stickers, flags, pamphlets and more than a little candy,” he said.

The attendees’ day started at Holmes early in the morning in order to arrive in Des Moines on time for the conference. Upon arrival, they listened to the first of the keynote speakers, Andrew Fuller. Fuller is a Des Moines baker and the winner of the first season of Is It Cake. The keynotes speakers’ speeches were unique in that the executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, Becky Taylor, interviewed the keynotes speakers. “Andrew Fuller talked a lot about his coming out process and how self love is very important,” said Megan Engdahl, one of the students who attended the conference. 

Prouty shared a story from Fuller’s interview. “A highlight of Fuller’s interview was during an emotional moment, he reached for a tissue from a box next to him and began eating it. He then grabbed a handful of the tissue box, which was actually a cake, and tossed it into the audience,” he said.

Afterward, the attendees split into sessions of their choice. “Students went to several sessions of their choice ranging in topics from LGBTQ rights and how to defend them, to panels of students, experts in various fields, to drag performers and how to ‘be fabulous,’” Prouty said.

Finally, to end the day, Taylor came out to interview the second and final keynotes speaker, CeCe Telfer, the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA national championship title. “CeCe’s story was one of triumph and challenge as she has faced opposition to her participation in collegiate athletics and as an Olympic hopeful,” Prouty said. “She talked about her coming out experience and how she’s had to jump through extra hoops to get where she wants to be in her career,” Engdahl said.

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