from Gay Activism in the Social Sciences
By Mike Hatfield
February 5, 2008 - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is holding its annual convention from Feb. 6-10, in Detroit, Michigan.
In the 74-page online schedule of events, the NGLTF describes dozens of workshops and speakers who will encourage attendees to continue pushing for gay political objectives; gender neutral restrooms for individuals who consider themselves trapped in opposite sex bodies; and the "queering" of academics and schools.
In the introductory remarks, an article on transgender etiquette tells attendees: "Please do not assume anyone's gender, even people you hay have met in the past. A person's external appearance may not match their internal gender identity." The article continues, "One way of acknowledging transgender people's needs is to designate restrooms gender neutral."
In a "Two-Spirit Open Letter To the Creating Change Community," members of The First Nations Collective note: "LGBT history in this land known as America began long before Stonewall. As sovereign First Nations, we have celebrated multiple gendered people for millennia, and since the European colonization & occupation, have struggled to keep this and other traditions alive."
During the conference, psychotherapist Guy Baldwin will be presented The Leather Leadership Award for his work with sado-masochistic and bondage & discipline clients. Baldwin launched the DSM Project in 1987 to "mobilize mental health professionals world-wide to press for changes to the official clinical definitions that had long been used to label leather people, gay and otherwise, as pathological."
Using Studies To Advance Political Objectives
Several workshops will deal with how to use research and studies to advance a gay political and culture agenda. "Using the Thinking: How research has a role to play in the fight for LGBT equality," will describe the work of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. The Institute produces studies that help advance the gay agenda. The workshop will "help you learn how to use the PI's research (and that of other think tanks and academics) to advance the cause of LGBT equality in your home community.
Another workshop, "Using Research to Pass LGBT Anti-Discrimination Laws," will teach attendees "how to use [research] effectively when advocating for anti-discrimination policies and laws. The session will end with a brain-storming session about what further research is needed and recommendations for conducting community based surveys to measure discrimination." This workshop will be hosted by a panel: M. V. Lee Badgett, Research Director, The Williams Institute, Amherst, MA; Amanda Baumie, Assistant Professor, University of Houston; Gary Gates, Senior Research Fellow, The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles; Adam Romero, Research Fellow, The Williams Associate, Brooklyn, New York.
The workshop "Queerly Academic - Building Allies across LGBTQ and Racial Identities in School Settings," will teach gay, bisexual or transgender school officials and students how to recruit straight allies in working against "homophobia" or "heterosexism" on campuses.
"A Dialog With Youth About Sex: Talking About Sex and Sexual Freedom," is hosted by Aubrie Dillon of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. This workshop will encourage youth to set their own goals for achieving sexual freedom.
In 2004, The Woodhull Freedom Foundation joined with the NGLTF in a project to 1. Analyze America's age of consent laws and to work to change these laws; 2. Study America's laws on public lewdness and to work to have these laws altered.