Saturday, February 21, 2009

6th Annual GSA Conference set for April 4, 2009

Don't Miss Iowa Pride Network's Largest Student Networking Event of the Year!!!

On Saturday April 4th, 2009, Iowa Pride Network will be hosting its 6th Annual Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Conference for high school and college students and advisors throughout the state!

The conference will be held at John & Mary Pappajohn Education Center located at 1200 Grand Avenue in downtown Des Moines from 9:45 AM until 4:30 PM. Check-in will begin at 9:00 AM, and the conference will start promptly at 9:45 AM.

Lunch and FREE IPN T-Shirts will be provided. This is a FREE conference!

Please remember: YOU MUST officially register on IPN's website AND you must have signed permission slips with you at the time you register!! (These are available only on IPN's website!)

Registration Deadline: March 28, 2009

9:00 – 9:45 Registration (Breakfast items/coffee, etc.)

9:45 – 10:15 Welcome & Opening Speakers

10:15 – 10:25 10 Min. Break

10:25 – 11:25 Session 1

11:25 – 12:25 Lunch, meet with college representatives

12:25 – 1:25 Session 2

1:25 – 1:35 10 Min. Break

1:35 – 2:35 Session 3

2:35 – 3:10 Student Networking, meet with college representatives

3:10 – 4:10 Session 4

4:10 – 4:30 Closing Session

The mission of the Annual Gay-Straight Alliance Conference is to celebrate the diversity and culture of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied (LGBTA) communities; collaborate across the spectrum of our identities and experiences; provide a safe forum to discuss challenges, issues and ideas facing LGBTA students today; and empower each other to build not only successful student organizations, but healthy and productive lives.

MAP to John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center

As Iowa Goes, So Goes the Nation...

Law School to Examine Iowa Same Sex Marriage Case
University of Iowa News Release, Feb. 12, 2009

While the Iowa Supreme Court debates the future of gay marriage in the state, the University of Iowa College of Law will examine the legal issues the justices are considering.

A two-day symposium, "As Iowa Goes, So Goes the Nation: Varnum v. Brien and Its Impact On Marriage Rights for Same-sex Couples," will be held Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at the Boyd Law Building.

Symposium coordinator Emily Winfield said speakers will provide a general background of the issues under consideration by the justices in the case Varnum v. Brien.

The case was argued in December on appeal from a state district court, which held that same-sex marriages do not violate the state's constitution. The Iowa Supreme Court's decision is expected sometime by the end of the year.

"Our speakers will consider not only the legal issues, but ask the question, 'What happens if?'" said Winfield, senior symposium editor of the law school's Journal of Gender, Race and Justice. "We want to talk about the different directions this case could go as well as consider the role other factors, such as social science, might play in the resolution of the case."

Lawyers and scholars from groups that both favor and oppose same-sex marriage will participate in the moderated panel discussions. Panelists will examine such issues as Iowa's historical commitment to expanding civil rights, how state and federal laws affect the issue, and the use of social science and history in marriage rights litigation.

Among those participating in the symposium will be:

--Jean Love, a former UI law professor, and Pat Cain, former UI law professor and UI provost, both now teaching at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

--United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Batallion of Omaha, who held in 2005 that an amendment to the Nebraska state constitution banning same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.

--Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defense Fund.

--Writer Dan Savage, author of the book "The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family," who will deliver the conference keynote. The book is a memoir recounting his and his partner's experience starting a family.

Academic events will be held in the Levitt Auditorium in the Boyd Law Building. Admission is free and open to the public. Savage's keynote address will be held during the symposium banquet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 in the hotelVetro. Tickets cost $20.

A symposium banquet will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, also at the hotelVetro. Tickets to the dinner cost $45. Registration is required by Feb. 21.

For more information, to register or to buy tickets to Savage's keynote, visit Tickets to the keynote are also available at Prairie Lights bookstore and the University of Iowa College of Law.

For information or to register visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

IPN Remembers Lawrence King

Who was Lawrence King?
Lawrence King was a 15-year-old student from
Oxnard, California, who was shot and killed in class on February 12, 2008 by a 14-year-old classmate because of King’s sexual orientation and gender expression. The hate crime received little media attention but has served as a rallying cry for the need to address anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. Organizers have registered more than 100 vigils across the country in remembrance of King.

At IPN we mourn Lawrence and all of the students who--even today--face hostile learning environments because of their real or percieved sexual orientation and gender identity.

Metro Gay-Straight Alliances are banding together for a candlelight vigil which will be held today at
Drake University from 7-9 pm in remembrance of Lawrence.

Last year the Iowa State Daily published a speech given by Warren Blumenfeld, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction. It was a great speech, so we have included it below.

Iowa State Daily
Issue date: 2/26/08

Each year, the FBI tracks incidents of hate crimes throughout the United States. It reported in 2006, its most recent report, 7,722 criminal incidents involving 9,080 offenses as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin, or physical or mental disability.

• 51.8 percent were motivated by racial bias.
• 18.9 percent were motivated by religious bias.
• 15.5 percent were motivated by sexual orientation bias.
• 12.7 percent were motivated by ethnicity or national origin bias.
• 1 percent was motivated by disability bias.

Once again, we are mourning the tragic death of a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, a courageous soul who defied the sexuality and gender status quo and embraced life by living with integrity, sincerity and compassion.

On the morning of Feb. 12, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, brandishing a gun, entered E. O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. He walked up to Lawrence King and blasted two bullets into King's head at close range. Reports indicate that McInerney targeted King because he was openly gay and gender non-conforming. Doctors declared King brain-dead at the hospital, and three days later, took him off life support. He was just 15 years old and in the eighth grade.

Speaking of her friend, whom she referred to as Larry, Melissa Castillo remembered her classmate as a person "who was never afraid to show who he was. He was always the spirit of our group. He was always smiling. He was always bubbling. If you were having a bad day, or if you were feeling down, he was the one to bring you back up and make you start laughing again. He was proud of [who he was]. That's what we loved about him."

Melissa and Larry's other friends loved him for being proud of being gay, and for expressing his gender in ways that felt comfortable and integral to him, even though this often went against convention. Larry occasionally came to school wearing traditionally feminine articles of clothing: dresses or skirts with makeup and jewelry. Not everyone, however, supported Larry's sexual identity and gender identity and expression.

Lawrence King's name is now recorded on a continually growing list of members of our communities who have been taken from us all too soon, people who dared to be themselves and to push back the margins of human potential and expression. They are my inspiration and my heroes. Though their names are too numerous, I will mention just a few others.

Twenty-one-year-old gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, on Oct. 6, 1998, was pistol-whipped by two young men and tied to a wooden fence for more than 18 hours in near-freezing temperatures. Matthew had hoped to dedicate his life to advancing the cause of human rights for all people. His uncle, R. W. Eaton, said that "Matt was a small person with a big heart, mind and soul that someone tried to beat out of him."

Gwen Amber Rose Araujo, a male-to-female transsexual, in Newark, Calif., at a party on Oct. 3, 2002, was choked by a male partygoer. Three assailants continued to physically abuse and verbally taunt Gwen for the next five hours. They bashed her head with a frying pan and a can of tomatoes, causing a large head gash to stream with blood. Another person struck her with a barbell, while another crashed her head into a plaster wall. Gwen's body was discovered two weeks later. The three suspected assailants were arrested for Gwen's murder. Following Gwen's funeral, people marched through the streets of Newark ending at a community mall According to her mother, Sylvia Guerrero, "[S]he went through a lot of pain, and people didn't respect h[er]. It took a lot of guts. [S]he's strong, and [s]he finally came out."

In Alabama, two men bludgeoned to death Billy Jack Gaither, a 39-year-old gay man, with an ax handle and tossed his limp body onto a pyre of burning tires.

Brandon Teena, a female-to-male transsexual, was gang-raped in Nebraska when some men found out he had a vagina. Teena reported the incident to local police officials who basically discounted his story. Soon thereafter, the perpetrators entered Teena's home and murdered him along with two of his friends.

Charlie Howard, a 23-year-old gay man, was walking arm-in-arm with his friend Roy Ogden after leaving a meeting of Interweave, a support group for lesbians, gay males, bisexuals and transgender persons sponsored by the Unitarian Universalists in Bangor, Maine. Three teenage males attacked them for being gay. While Ogden got away, the three teens surrounded Howard, punched and kicked him as he attempted to hang on to a rail of a bridge overlooking a stream below. One of the teens gave the order to throw Howard from the bridge. When Howard heard this, he cried out in panic saying he could not swim. His plea only enlivened the boys, who dislodged Howard's hands from the railing, and with a mighty heave, tossed him into the stream some 20 feet below. Howard's lifeless body was found down stream.

What was done to Larry, to Matthew, to Gwen, to Billy Jack, to Brandon, and to Charlie is, unfortunately, nothing new and is not limited to them. We see hate-motivated violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and other targeted social groups on the rise, though most do not reach a high level of public discourse. These are examples of hate-related violence in general and so-called queer bashing specifically. The killers live in a society that promotes intolerance, for queer bashing comes in a great many forms.

For today we still live in a society where some people proclaim that we don't have a right to exist, but exist we do, everywhere, in all walks of life. The truth is that there is currently a cultural war being waged by the political and theocratic right, a war to turn back all the gains progressive people have made over the years.

No amount of intimidation, however, will ever lock us away again. Lesbians, gay males, bisexuals, transgender people and our loving and supportive heterosexual allies are coming out in greater numbers than ever before, as witnessed in the large outpouring of grief, anger and love in remembrance of Larry. As marginalized people, we are pushing the boundaries, unwilling any longer to accept the repressive status quo.

One year before he was slain, gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk recorded a will that was to be played in the event of his assassination. In it he stated that he never considered himself simply as a candidate for public office, but rather, always considered himself as part of a movement: a liberation movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and a liberation movement for all people.

Each time Harvey spoke in front of a crowd, he urged people to come out everywhere and often: "Tell your immediate family," he would say. "Tell friends, neighbors, people in the stores you shop in, cab drivers, everyone." And he urged heterosexual people to be our allies, to interrupt derogatory remarks and jokes, to support us and offer aid when needed. If we all did this, he said, we could change the world.

Well, in his brief time with us, Lawrence King also changed lives. His caring soul transformed the people he met. Though his murderer may have succeeded in devastating his body, he did not and will never succeed in destroying his gentle spirit, or in extinguishing the heart of a community and a movement for social justice, for Larry's spirit continues, inspiring a people, a nation, a world.

I truly believe that love will conquer the hatred. To Larry, to Matthew, to Gwen, to Brandon, to Billy Jack, to Charlie, to Harvey, and all the others, thank you for the riches you have left us. We will continue the struggle in your name to make the world a safer and more supportive environment for all its people. May you find the peace in death that you could not always find in life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Student Day @ Capitol Set for March 4th

For the past three years, Iowa Pride Network members have been instrumental in helping achieve LGBT equality in Iowa. Through our capitol press conferences at the Student Day at the Capitol and personal stories and activism we have changed the landscape for LGBT people through the passage of the Safe Schools Law and the amended Civil Rights Law which now includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

This year, we’re marching to the Capitol to let our legislators know that we’re still here. Just a few years ago some legislators thought LGBT people didn’t exist in Iowa! On Wednesday, March 4th, we will go to the Capitol to remind them that we’re here, we are politically powerful and we want to be part of the process.

This year’s Student Day at the Capitol will be unique: We’re planning to meet one-on-one with our only out LGBT State Senator, Matt McCoy; our amazing ally Lt. Governor Patty Judge and other allied legislators—where you can pick their brains about running for political office, LGBT issues in Iowa and any other issues that are important to you. It promises to be a day of fun and networking. We hope to see you all there!


(This includes all students and adult advisors/chaperones.)

***All participants MUST bring a completed permission/release slip.***

Registration Deadline is February 25th!

Capitol Complex Map: