In early November, over 30 leaders representing Equality Illinois, OutFront Minnesota, Equality New Mexico, Equality Ohio, PROMO (Missouri), Equality Pennsylvania, and Equality Utah gathered in Chicago for Equality Federation’s West by Midwest Leadership Summit.

Equality Illinois welcomed everyone with organized festivities, and The Center on Halsted provided space at their incredible LGBT Center. (View the photo gallery on the right!)

“The Summit is a gathering we cherish because it provides a rare venue for our state leaders to learn from each other and strategize to make change. This year we discussed the ways that our fight for LGBT rights intersects with the struggle for racial and juvenile justice,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. “We shared how we can educate people about the challenges faced by transgender Americans and how we as a movement can advance the march to full equality.”

Alana Jochum, Managing Director of Equality Ohio added, “The Midwest leadership conference was invaluable. It brought together LGBTQ movement leaders from diverse states–some that have passed statewide nondiscrimination laws, some that are still working toward that (and other) goals, and some that have developed extraordinary intersectional programming in areas like immigration, racial, and juvenile justice. It was refreshing to have a space to share what has and has not worked for organizations with other smart, strategic minds.”

The Summit provided time for networking and the exchange of ideas and lessons learned from the states, and also featured presentations from Equality Federation staff and guest experts.

Topics included Embracing Racial Justice in Our Work, Defeating Religious Exemption Bills, and Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills. The group also split-up into caucuses to discuss fundraising strategies and programing.

Sheila Bedi from Youth First Initiative led an illuminating discussion on how LGBTQ youth are affected by the juvenile justice system, and where we – the state-based LGBTQ movement – fit in the larger movement for reform. Among the startling statistics: on any given day 60,000 kids are incarcerated in the United States.

Learn more about the Youth First! and the juvenile justice system:

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Mark Snyder

Mark Snyder is the Director of Communications for Equality Federation, and he wishes you a wonderful day. Please share this post with your friends and family.

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