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Today, LGBT rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, became the latest in a string of national organizations to punish Nashville for Tennessee state lawmakers' passage of HB1840, the controversial anti-LGBT measure that allows mental health providers to discriminate against patients on the basis of a deeply held conviction.

HRC announced today that it is pulling its 2017 Time to THRIVE conference out of Nashville. Time to THRIVE is the premier national convening of educators, professional counselors, and other youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field. The conference has been relocated to Washington, D.C., and will be held April 28-30, 2017.

The move from Tennessee is supported by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA), both Time To THRIVE co-presenters. The ACA earlier this month announced it also is pulling its 2017 annual conference and expo out of Nashville.

“When Tennessee legislators pushed a needless and mean-spirited counseling discrimination law, we knew that Time to THRIVE, which brings together professionals dedicated to the safety and inclusion of LGBTQ youth, could not be held as planned in Nashville,” said Dr. Vincent Pompei, Conference Chair and Director of HRC Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Project. “Tennessee lawmakers have allowed professional counselors to put personal religious beliefs over the needs of LGBTQ youth, whose very well-being is Time to THRIVE’s focus.”

“We are very troubled by the new Tennessee law, which is the worst I’ve seen passed in my 30 years with the ACA,” said Richard Yep, CEO of ACA. “This law directly targets the counseling profession, and would deny services to those most in need, including LGBTQ youth, in clear violation of our members’ code of ethics. That’s why we won’t hold our own conference in Nashville, and why we support moving Time to THRIVE out of Tennessee as well.”

Now in its fourth year, Time to THRIVE is the premier event of the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization. The conference addresses safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth, bringing together hundreds of youth-serving professionals to discuss best practices for working with and caring for LGBTQ youth and their families in schools, community centers, healthcare settings, and beyond.

According to Growing Up LGBT In America, HRC Foundation’s groundbreaking survey of more than 10,000 LGBTQ young people, LGBTQ youth in the United States still face unique challenges. Only half of LGBTQ youth surveyed say that they “fit in” with their community; LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to be verbally harassed at school; and 63 percent of LGBTQ youth say they will need to move to another part of the country to feel accepted.

For more information about Time to Thrive or to register, visit www.TimeToThrive.org.  

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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