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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI to host Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Symposium

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KINGSTON, R.I. – March 16, 2007 – The University of Rhode Island will host its 13th annual symposium on gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning issues on the Kingston campus March 28 through March 31. The symposium, Backstory and Backlash, is free and open to the public and sponsored by the university’s GLBT Center.

“If you turned on the news in the last few days, all of the candidates are talking about gay marriage and the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” said Andrew Winters, assistant to vice president of Student Affairs for GLBT programs and services. “A lot of the controversy comes from a long history of hatred and fears that are really based on misinformation. Much is based on perspectives that are no longer even true.

“With this symposium, we hope to take a look at the fact that we are complex human beings. The fact is that gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people exist in all communities regardless of race, class, and religion. We really need to have people understand that just like anyone else, we as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender people, have needs that are similar to everyone else and also ones that are unique due to the discrimination they face.”

The symposium offers numerous workshops, discussions, programs and seminars that promote understanding and equality of different sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions on campus and around the nation.

It kicks off Wednesday night at 7:30 in the Multicultural Center’s Hardge Forum with the discussion of “Same-Sex Marriage and Marriage Equality in Rhode Island.” The discussion will be lead by Elizabeth Cantor, a child clinical psychologist with Psychological Centers in Warren and author of the book Same-Sex Marriage: The Legal and Psychological Evolution in America, and Jenn Steinfeld, director and founding member of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a statewide organization working to achieve equal access to marriage for same-sex couples.

Cantor will challenge the argument against same-sex marriage – that it is not good for children – and emphasize the important role of research in making social policy decisions. Steinfeld will outline the state of Rhode Island’s movement toward equal marriage and will provide an overview of the status of marriage around the nation and the world.

Workshops will be held throughout Thursday and Friday. Topics include GLBTQ health care, sexual orientation as status, and transforming communities through social justice organizations.

On Thursday night at 7:30, the GLBT Center will host an “Evening of Song” in the Browning Hall main lounge featuring WomanSpiritRising, a Providence-based a cappella chorus of a diverse group of women. The group will be followed by a series of open-mic performances.

For a full symposium schedule, visit www.uri.edu/glbt/symposium.