Professors Nikki McGary and Chris Rempfer, advisors of NVCC’s Safe Space Club, along with 10 club members attended the 2019 True Colors Conference, the largest and most comprehensive LGBTQ+ youth issues conference in the nation. The conference was held on UCONN’s Storrs Campus on March 22 and March 23, and got its founding in 1994 as a field work project by current Executive Director Robin P. McHaelen, MSW. More than 3,000 youth, educators, social workers, clinicians, family members and clergy participate in 250 workshops, films, activities and events over the course of the two-day event. The conference mission is to improve and enrich the lives of LGBTQ+ youth, in school, at home, within the social service system, and in the community by creating a forum through which for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies may participate.
This year was the second year students and advisors from NVCC participated. Thanks to a grant awarded to NVCC from the Connecticut Community Foundation’s “Pride Fund,” and support from NVCC’s Student Government Association and Student Services more students were able to attend this year.
Safe Space superstar Heath Ruszkowski hosted a lecture and conversation at the conference titled, “Tackling Issues within the Lesbian Community” about the complexity of lesbianism linked to gender nonconformity.
McGary, an Assistant Professor of Sociology who co-advises NVCC’s Safe Space Club with NVCC Assistant Professor of English Chris Rempfer, were able to “participate in sessions geared toward professionals, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and rights in higher education.”
According to McGary, the Safe Space Club has about 30 members and recently hosted the Zero Discrimination Day panel from the College’s Waterbury campus. The club has also started collaborating with other student clubs and organizations at NVCC to host more events.
Rempfer, who is a member of the Connecticut Community Foundation’s Pride Fund, said, “One of the goals of this club in the next year is to host a full-day event on NVCC’s campus where members of gay-straight alliances from local high schools can come to meet each other and also interact with college students from the LGBTQ+ community. NVCC has an opportunity to provide the platform to bring LGBTQ+ youth in our service region together for a day of fellowship, networking, support, and education.”
To join the Safe Space club, students can contact Dr. Nikki McGary or Chris Rempfer.