On Saturday, the Norman chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) will host the organization’s fourth regional conference, which seeks to provide an education on matters relevant to the LGBT community.
Organizers anticipate topics will include bullying, religion, health, and legal and political issues.
Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey will open the conference, with former University of Oklahoma professor George Henderson slated to deliver the keynote address.
A longtime civil rights proponent who has written or co-written 29 books, Henderson said he will focus on the history of LGBT people in civil rights.
“[LGBT people] sat with African-Americans at the back of the bus in the South and they marched with us when we secured our civil rights,” said Henderson, who is black. “However, GLBT citizens are still in the back of the metaphorical civil rights bus.”
Jason Martin, Norman’s PFLAG president, said he believes one of the conference’s more popular breakout sessions will be “Trans 101.”
“A lot of transgendered people in the community are getting more and more of a voice and being recognized,” Martin said. “I think people are trying to understand how they can better accommodate people that they didn’t know [about] five or 10 years ago.”
A session on religion, a perennial hot-button issue, will be covered by a speaker from Soulforce, a group dedicated to fighting religion-based oppression. Other sessions will explore hate crimes, the Defense of Marriage Act and workplace equality.
Martin said he hopes the additional time and planning that went into this year’s conference will draw more people to attend. Oklahoma is part of the south region of PFLAG’s national organization, an area that includes Texas, Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas.
“Norman is usually very welcoming,” he said.