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For Immediate Release
Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

Conference aims to promote inclusion in educational, other settings

     Rochester, Mich. – With a goal to create more supportive and inclusive educational environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex (GLBTQQI) people, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Initiative of Oakland University's School of Education and Human Services will host the second annual Michigan SOGI Education Conference on Saturday, March 9.

     The event will feature expert presentations, roundtable discussions, informative workshops, dynamic work sessions and networking opportunities – all focused on meeting the needs of GLBTQQI students, staff, faculty and administrators.

     Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh will make opening remarks, along with SOGI Initiative Director Timothy Larrabee and event emcee, Affirmations LGBT Community Center Executive Director David Garcia.

     Delivering the event's keynote address will be Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff – a nationally recognized social justice advocate and pioneering leader in an international movement to create safe and welcoming schools and communities.

     Chasnoff's highly acclaimed documentaries addressing youth and bias issues are hailed by educators and advocates as among the best tools available today to help open dialogue and encourage advocacy around many of the most challenging issues affecting young people's lives and school environments.

     Garcia, a single gay father, has a degree in communications with a media focus from the University of Michigan-Flint. He began his public fight for LGBT issues after being fired as a result of attempts to start a Gay Straight Alliance in the public schools.

     Garcia has continued his efforts to improve lives and advance the cause of justice for all in the LGBT community, including his service on the Board of Directors for the Jim Toy Center in Ann Arbor and his current role on the National Centerlink Board.

     The 2013 Michigan SOGI Education Conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 9 in the Oakland Center on the campus of Oakland University. For interactive and printable maps of the campus, visit

     Registration for the event, which includes a breakfast and lunch, is $100 for the general public and $25 for students. Organizations wishing to host and information table can do so for $25.

     Online registration is available at On-site registration is payable by credit card or electronic check (ACH). Those seeking additional information about the event should visit the conference website at or call the SOGI Initiative office at (248) 370-4160.

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Oakland University is a doctoral, research-intensive university located in Oakland County, Michigan. The university has 139 bachelor's degree programs and 127 graduate degree and certificate programs. Dedicated to delivering a distinctive undergraduate experience that is complemented by the strength of its graduate offerings and research accomplishments, Oakland University is organized into the College of Arts and Sciences, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and the Schools of Business Administration, Education and Human Services, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Nursing and The Honors College. Visit Oakland University on the Web at