SPRINGFIELD - LGBT community leaders and allies, progressive advocates, civic officials, community groups and interested individuals will gather in Springfield on August 29 for the LGBT Equality Institute presented by Equality Illinois.
Panels will cover topics that include non-discrimination, mental health care, transgender equality, safe schools, adoption and family services, faith, HIV/AIDS prevention and services, addiction recovery, ally development, youth, criminalization of the LGBT community, aging, state initiatives and policy, and more.
The conference will feature state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, IL, who will participate in the lunchtime portion of the program. Sen. Manar's Central Illinois district includes Springfield and Decatur.
"Equality Illinois has always had a strong statewide presence, but we believe there is a need to allow the LGBT community and our allies from outside the Chicago metropolitan area easier access to leaders, resources, and sense of community by holding this LGBT Equality Institute in the center of the state ," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.
Patty Dillon, the Director of Field Operations for Equality Illinois, said the Springfield LGBT Equality Institute is attracting interest from all corners of the state.
"LGBT Illinoisans and their families from cities, towns and rural areas of Illinois share a desire to live full and equal lives no matter where they live, but there are unique challenges facing people who may not have the ready access to resources, experts and opinion leaders that those in the larger cities have," Dillon said. "By holding these discussions in the capital city, we hope to make those connections a little easier."
Community sponsors of the Springfield LGBT Equality Institute presented by Equality Illinois include the Phoenix Center of Springfield, Prairie Pride Coalition of Bloomington-Normal, and CORAL ( Coalition of Rainbow Alliances ), an umbrella organization for LGBT service providers in Central Illinois. The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a contributing sponsor.
"Illinois protects LGBT people from discrimination and ensures the freedom to marry, but the hard work continues to ensure that true lived equality is available to and achievable by LGBT Illinoisans from Cairo to Chicago," said Mike Ziri, Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy and a Springfield native and former local officeholder. "That's why it's important for community groups, policymakers, and citizens to convene, learn, and strategize at the Equality Institute, which will take place just steps from the State Capitol."
More information on the program as it develops and registration for the August 29 event at the State House Inn, 101 E. Adams St., Springfield, are available at eqil.org/springfield-institute-2015. The $20 registration includes lunch. Scholarships for individuals with financial need are available by contacting Patty Dillon at email@example.com .