On Saturday February 21st, 2015,  Vanderbilt University will host its sixth annual OUT in Front, a college conference for LGBTQIA+ and Allies that strives to engage students, faculty, and staff and community members from across the Southeast in issues relevant to the community and society at large. The event is an opportunity for both learning from and networking with young and budding leaders in the region.

One of the major purposes of the conference is to connect individuals and communities each other, building networks of activists and volunteers, and to provide everyone with knowledge about and access to resources that will help them enrich the lives of LGBTQIA+ and allies in the South/Southeast. Participants will meet peers from across the Southeast to share ideas, develop leadership skills, and foster a strong community of leaders and future leaders.

It’s very important for LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, and community members in the South/Southeast to have this opportunity, as many lack access to empowering and affirming spaces and people. It’s easy to feel isolated and unsupported in our own islands, but OUT in Front 2015 will provides the space and community for LGBTQIA+ folks to gather, network, and grow!

This year’s conference theme is Branching OUT. What does the theme mean? Branching OUT strives to explore all aspects of identity, from the history and awareness of identity to the current tools college leaders can use to affect change on campus and the community. We want all conference attendees to branch out of their comfort zone and into the communities present at OUT in Front. Based on the tree metaphor, we focus on:

The Roots that ground you and draw in resources. In relation to LGBTQIA+ and Ally identities, the roots signify history, awareness, education, common language, and identity.

The Trunks that are strong and provide you with room and spaces in which to grow. We see the trunk as a place to educate others, educate oneself, and talk about one’s identity/self-development, intersectionality and the tools needed for social justice and ally ship.

The Branches that reach out into surrounding areas and are not afraid to grow into the spaces of the community around it. For the LGBTQIA+ and ally conference attendees, exploring our branches involves learning and strategizing about impacts, action plans, activism, change, policy work, and politics.

We hope you consider branching out in 2015 and volunteer or attend OUT in Front 2015. From this one weekend we hope many new trees are planted and that their branches reach across our society’s boundaries and help create positive change for LGBTQIA+ communities.

OUT in Front is open to the community, and we encourage community members to consider volunteering and/or attending. The conference is free to attend.

 

 

 

For more information about the conference and registration, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/lgbtqi/programs/out-in-front. Petey Peterson is the program coordinator at the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at Vanderbilt University.

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