NEU LGBT+ Conference
I would like to thank the District for supporting my attendance at the LGBT+ conference in December last year. It was extremely interesting to be at a paperless conference and to see how well this worked, in particular in regard to voting for the awards on the Saturday night and reading motions. Rather than coming home with a cotton bag full of paper, I came home with only the things that were additional, such as booklists and promotional material. It also means that I can find, at a moment's notice, any of the information I want through the NEU events app. In light of a climate crisis this seems to me both the positive move for the environment and an extremely useful one for someone who forgets things, as I do.
The entire event was very well organised and led, and it was palpable how much genuine equality was at the heart of how speakers were programmed, and in the time given to different groups of people. Within a shared umbrella identity, emphasis was given to hearing minority voices and giving them extra space. The BAMELGBT group were particularly visible as a cohort (thanks to highly active group leaders) and it was fantastic to see intersectional politics being celebrated, rather than seen as difficult to align.
I attended 3 workshops on the Saturday:
The first, How to build an LGBT+ network, involved participants sharing lessons learned from their own experiences of networking and collective organising. Looking at how to connect with people on multiple levels was seen as key to building a network which was sustainable over time.
The next workshop was led by The Proud Trust who run youth groups, offer professional training, and make LGBT+ education resources: www.theproudtrust.org Their workshop focused on using picture books to support trans-positivity in Primary schools. They have created a book and resource pack called Alien Nation to support gender identity understanding which I would recommend as an excellent and cost-effective tool.
The final workshop was entitled School Environments as an Ecosystem of Stress, and used theory from Meyer, Crenshaw and Foucault to look at how schools can function to divide individuals and perpetuate power imbalances. It was a very good balance of the personal and political, and gave a broader view of school structures that has stayed with me.
The rest of the conference proceedings were well run and the motions keenly debated. It was a very positive experience and has reignited my interest in union activism. Thank you for supporting my attendance.