The Idaho Psychological Association hopes a free community workshop in Boise in March 1 will give parents of LGBTQ youth and others the necessary information and guidance they need to support them.

The workshop, entitled “Gay & Lesbian Teens: What We Know & How To Guide Them,” is thought to be the IPA’s first community outreach revolving around LGBTQ issues since the group’s founding in the 1960s, and will give attendees the opportunity to learn more about teen sexual orientation and gender development. The event is open to the public and will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Boise State University Student Union Building, Hatch Ballroom A. Pre-registration is available at www.idahopsych.org.

 

Pride Foundation will be among the organizations tabling the event, providing information and resources related to the Idaho LGBTQ community. Other groups attending include Boise PFLAG, Idaho Safe Schools Coalition, Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, the Boise chapter of Integrity, and Boise State University’s LGBTQ student support group BGLAD. Ritch Savin-Williams, professor and chair of human development and director of the sex and gender lab at Cornell University, and Kenneth Cohen, a clinical psychologist at Cornell specializing in gay, lesbian and bisexual issues, will also speak at the event, which will include a question and answer session.

The workshop precedes a day-long continuing education workshop on March 2 at BSU for health and mental care professionals, also focused on LGBTQ issues.

Deborah Katz, executive director of the IPA, said the organization decided the LGBTQ focus for these events was needed due to members seeing an increase in the number of gay, lesbian and transgendered clients, as well as more parents coming forward seeking advice on how to support their LGBTQ child.

“We hope that those who come will leave with valid scientific information, acceptance of it and guidance on how to respond,” Katz said.

“The community workshop will offer a great opportunity for parents, educators, and human service professionals to learn about issues and concerns relevant to contemporary LGBTQ youths’ experiences,” said Elizabeth Morgan, co-chair of the Idaho Safe Schools Coalition and an assistant professor of psychology at Boise State University. “It will also provide youth with the opportunity to gain validation for their own experiences and be exposed to alternative pathways of development.”

“Drs. Savin-Williams and Cohen are renowned in the field of sexual-minority youth development and will provide incredibly valuable information based on up-to-date research and best-practices,” she said. “Hearing these speakers is an incredible opportunity for the community, given that many professionals and educators do not receive adequate training for working with this population and many parents are also unprepared to create a protective and supportive environment for their LGBTQ children.”

Morgan added that the workshop will also address ways for youth, parents, educators and other professionals to respond to issues related to bullying.

“Further insights into recognizing and addressing bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, gender non-conformity, and gender identity are especially timely,” she said, “given that the Idaho Legislature is currently considering a bill that would protect students’ rights for school safety.”

Steve Martin is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Idaho. Email Steve.

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