"Conference for Hope" the LGBTQA Youth Conference For the first time in its history, Spokane will host a "Conference for Hope" a gathering of more than 500 GLBTQA youth along with their parents, teachers and other community members by Virginia De Leon "Conference for Hope," the LGBTQA Youth Conference WHAT: A series of workshops and gatherings for youth, teachers, leaders, parents, community members, service providers and others in the community. WHEN: July 24 to 26, 2009 WHERE: ITRON Inc., 2111 N. Molter Road in Liberty Lake COST: Free registration To register or for more information, check out www. odysseyyouth.org or call (509) 325-3637. O rganized by Odyssey Youth Center, the event will focus on the theme of relationships and provide participants with an opportunity to network, learn and support each other. According to these teens, an understanding of the nature of relationships and what it takes to develop healthy relationships can prevent problems such as drug abuse, homelessness and violence. "We are empowering youth to take ownership of their lives," said Ann Marie Floch, Odyssey's coordinator of youth programs. "This will truly be an amazing event." The conference will take place July 24 to 26 at ITRON in Liberty Lake. The event is expected to draw youth, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) groups, service providers, community leaders and educators from throughout Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, California, Alaska and Canada. Registration is free. This is a conference created by youth for youth, said Floch. When the young people at Odyssey were asked to select a name for the event, they chose "hope," she said, because this is exactly what they wish to 0 instill among all the participants. After numerous discussions and meetings, Odyssey members decided to offer workshops on a variety of topics from healthy self-exploration and communication boundaries to spiritual connectedness and stress management. Saturday evening's events include dinner and a dance. Youth at Odyssey hope this conference will help everyone gay and straight youth of all races and all religions examine relationships in order to find common understanding. The conference also includes special sessions for parents and teachers. The Saturday morning workshops for parents will focus on the work of Dr. Caitlin Ryan, an expert in the field of lesbian health, the director of Adolescent Health Initiatives at Cesar Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University and director of the Family Acceptance Project. Ryan also has conducted extensive research on the relationships between parents and their gay children. During the conference, Ryan will talk about suicide. "Suicide attempts and suicide completion have a strong message in the absence or involvement of the parent-child relationship," explained Floch. Some of the afternoon topics for parents include "Religion and Homosexuality" and "Celebrating your LGBTQ Child." The teacher workshops will be facilitated by a representative from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a national education organization that focuses on ensuring safe schools for all children. "GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression," according to its website. With the recent increase Hope - Continued Page 12 | June 2009 | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | www.qviewnorthwest.com