First Family Acceptance Regional Conference held this weekend

In an attempt to illuminate risks to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer youth and provide strategies for keeping families united, the Utah Pride Center is hosting its first Family Acceptance Regional Conference this weekend.

“For more than a decade, the Utah Pride Center has worked to provide resources for Utah’s LGBTQ homeless youth,” said Executive Director of the Pride Center Valerie Larabee. “In recent years, that work has expanded to not only provide for their immediate needs, but also to fight the systems and attitudes that perpetuate this systemic problem.”

The Pride Center focuses on more than simple issues like gay marriage and “dont’ ask, don’t tell.” Forty-two percent of Utah’s homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and LGBTQ youth who are met with a negative reaction to their sexuality from their family members are exponentially more likely to attempt suicide or become depressed than those met with a positive reaction.

The conference will illuminate problems like these and provide possible solutions.

“It’s exciting that the Utah Pride Center is hosting the first regional conference on family acceptance and an honor that this event is motivated by our research and new family-based approach to supporting LGBT youth,” said Caitlin Ryan, the keynote speaker of the conference. “It’s especially meaningful that the conference is taking place in a community that values families deeply and where the information and tools attendees can take from it will help many families.”

The Conference will cater to three specific groups: LGBTQ youth, parents of LGBTQ youth and professionals who work with LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care.

Members from groups including the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth, Gender Spectrum, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, Legal Services for Children, the ACLU of Utah and Planned Parenthood of Utah will also speak at the conference.

“We are honored to host Dr. Ryan and others because there is a great need for examination of this issue. Our community has to first fully understand the problem in order to address it effectively,” said Larabee. “The conference will be most effective if the attendees make up a diverse cross-section of our community. Everyone from youth and parents, to professionals and our legislators need education and training on this important issue.”

The Conference will be held Oct. 8-10 at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel at 150 W. 500 S. in Salt Lake.

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