The 11th Annual Iowa Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth will take place on April 25th, 2016 at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Des Moines.  

All students deserve a safe and supportive place in which to learn including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).  For many LGBTQ youth, school can be a terrifying place due to bullying, harassment, and discrimination.  In order to eliminate bullying in Iowa schools and create leadership opportunities for LGBTQ youth, Iowa Safe Schools founded the Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth. 

Founded in 2006, the Governors Conference is the largest LGBTQ youth conference nationally.  Over 1,000 individuals from over 100 Iowa communities attended in 2014 including Iowa students, college students, professors, educators, counselors, administrators, policy makers, parents, faith leaders, youth-serving professionals, and those who just care about the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth.  Students from Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Minnesota also attended.  

The mission of the Annual Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth is to a) engage and educate students, educators, parents, community leaders, youth-serving professionals, policy makers, and others concerned about issues relevant to the LGBTQ community, and b) encourage networking and activism to inspire our communities to promote diversity, equality, and social justice.

Past keynote speakers of this event include Judy Shepard (Mother of Matthew Shepard), Moises Kaufman (Author of The Laramie Project), Brent Hartinger (Author of Geography Club), Kevin Jennings (Founder of GLSEN), John Amaechi (NBA Star), Lt. Dan Choi (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal advocate), Sarah Schulman (Playwright and Author), Jai Rodriguez (RENT & Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), His Royal Highness Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Leisha Hailey (Actress), Eliza Byard (Executive Director, GLSEN), Miss Coco Peru (Comedian/Monologist), Blake Skjellerup (Olympian), Darren Young (WWE Superstar), and former Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.  

Iowa elected and public officials who have spoken at the event in the past include former Governor Tom Vilsack, former Lt. Governor Sally Pederson, former Governor Chet Culver, former Lt. Governor Patty Judge, Congressman Leonard Boswell, Former First Lady Christie Vilsack, Former Iowa Department of Education Director Judy Jeffrey, and Iowa Civil Rights Commission Executive Director Beth Townsend. 

The 2016 Conference will take place on Monday, April 25th, 2016 at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Des Moines.  

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