By: Uma Ribiero and Julia Moyer
Thanks to the planning of Ms. Danielle DuPuis and the support of the other SAGA club sponsors, Ms. Holly, Ms. Hart, and Ms. Reisman, Hammond will be hosting its first-ever Rainbow Conference on May 15, 2020 from 12-4pm. The conference will celebrate the pride among members of Howard County with LGBT activities and resources. Students and teachers from all Howard County schools along with family members and friends are all welcome to attend the conference, which will begin with keynote speaker Mikah Meyer saying a few words in the auditorium. After that, attendees will transition from the auditorium to their three previously selected sessions.
There are currently eighteen sessions to choose from, with panels focusing on a variety of topics, from LGBT literature, games, and dancing, to behind the scenes of the LGBT movement, activism, and experience. The conference not only gives Howard County residents a chance to celebrate their pride, but also allows for lgbt students and other members of the community to gain important resources and learn more about the LGBT-based events and activities which take place within Maryland. The conference also gives allies an opportunity to learn more about how they can support their LGBT friends and family as well. Not to mention, free pizza and snacks will be distributed to attendees, and there will be opportunities to win prizes throughout the event.
Ms. DuPuis, who has been organizing the Rainbow Conference and gaining sponsors, commented on what inspired her to plan this event. “Over the years at SAGA meetings, students would comment how they would love to meet up with other students from other schools, and also, as a sponsor, I was kind of like “I feel pretty in-the-know about a lot of things, but I was also learning a lot of new things from students, like things that were going on around the school, and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a conference that could bring students from other schools here, so other LGBTQ students and their allies could meet up, get together, and meet one another and plan, but also that would inform these students as well as other educators about LGBTQ issues in and outside of the school system. I feel like it’s one of those things that you don’t know what you don’t know and the more that we bring awareness to these things, the better. For instance, I had not even heard about non-binary genders until like two years ago, so…to be able to have other teachers and educators come and not feel judged for maybe not knowing proper [LGBTQ] protocol and be able to attend these sessions that are going to be offeredthat will help them in the classroom and just in like in general, I think is going to be good.”
Hammond students are already looking forward to the conference, which is only five short months away. Sophomore Kelly Kujawa comments, “I am really excited for the rainbow conference because it provides an opportunity for members of the LGBT+ community to be surrounded by members of the Hammond and Howard County community who support them!”
Ms. DuPuis is currently looking for Hammond and other Howard County high school students to volunteer at the conference. Some students have already signed up to help session presenters at the conference. Sophomore Jordan Galeone added on, “I’m looking forward to the rainbow conference in May because of the opportunities it holds for me. I signed up to help a session presenter with their panel at it, and I’m very excited!”
There are still volunteer spots open to help session presenters throughout the event as well as to help with set-up for the conference, and service hours will be provided if needed.
Along with planning and preparing for the Rainbow Conference, Ms. DuPuis is working with two interns to advertise for the event and to create an LGBT-oriented literary magazine to be distributed to conference attendees on May 15. The magazine will be filled with writing, photography, art, and more created by Howard County high school students. Rainbow Vision Literary Magazine is currently accepting submissions of all types of writing, from poetry to essays to short stories, as well as photography, art, and song lyrics, with an LGBT theme until March 1st. All allies and members of the community are encouraged to submit to the magazine.
Be sure to follow @hcpss_pride and @rainbowvision on Instagram for important updates regarding the conference and the magazine!