MTSU to host LGBT Plus College Conference April 4-6 on Campus

Mar 27, 2024 at 08:28 pm by WGNS News

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — “Standing Strong” for diversity and inclusion is the focus of the 2024 LGBT Plus College Conference, set for Thursday-Saturday, April 4-6, on campus at Middle Tennessee State University.

The theme is a nod to the ongoing legislation against diversity, equity and inclusion programs at the local, state and federal levels.


“The basic idea is there’s an onslaught of bad news of late and the goal of the conference is to explore ways to push back against that and hold your ground,” said psychology professor William Langston, one of the conference organizers.

The three-day conference will be offered in person and virtually, and features educational presentations, panel discussions and daily keynote events. Programs will be available in braille as well as accessible for those with assistive technology.

All events will be held in the second-level ballrooms and meeting spaces in the Student Union Building, 1768 MTSU Blvd. Registration and check-in start at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, April 4.

Conference highlights

  • The conference then kicks off with Nashville Queer History founder and MTSU alumnaSarah Calise.
  • Following the opening remarks, English lecturerEric Hughes, founder of The Lavender Closet Project for gender-affirming clothing, will spotlight contemporary literature focused on how the AIDS crisis of the 1980s is portrayed now.
  • Wingate University psychology professorCandace Lapan will give a pre-lunch talk on “Creating a Welcoming Island in a Sea of Prejudice: How to Support LGBTQ+ Students and Employees in Non-inclusive Communities.”
  • After lunch, the Tennessee Pride Chamber will host a panel focused on crisis communication, and the importance of advocacy and diversity within business operations, Langston explained.
  • Gary Wright,an assistant professor of science education in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Missouri, will lecture about empowering LGBTQ youth with STEM education.
  • On Friday, the events get underway at 9:30 a.m. with a panel on neurodivergent and LGBTQ+ identities. This will feature a look at the experience of adults who are neurodivergent and transgender or nonbinary in accessing medical care, presented by a researcher from the U.K.,Katie Munday.
  • A Friday luncheon will feature a keynote presentation on “Mama Bears,” a documentary exploration of conservative Christian mothers who have become fierce advocates for the LGBTQ community. There will also be a panel discussion with the filmmakerDaresha Kyi.
  • On Friday afternoon, there will be a strategy session with faculty from the University of Houston who have been instrumental in maintaining support for students affected in the wake of the Texas legislature’s efforts to end diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

“What we’re going to do is brainstorm ways to offer services and support to students in case the Tennessee legislature makes it harder,” Langston said. “We want to be ready at MTSU.”

“We are graded on retention, persistence and graduation rates,” Langston said, “and there is a lot of evidence that helping students feel a sense of belonging and engagement improves outcomes.”

  • At 10:45 a.m. Saturday, author, filmmaker and photographerSt. Clair Detrick-Juleswill offer the community keynote address, “My Beautiful Black Hair: 101 Natural Hair Stories from the Sisterhood,” a presentation that references her book of the same name. She is also the final event connected to the 2024 National Women’s History Month activities at MTSU. 

“We’re all in this together. Whether you’re in a minoritized group or not, we all want the same thing — to live our own lives as we see fit,” Langston said.

More: For more information on accessing the event and a complete list of event programming, visit the conference website and register at Off-campus visitors planning to attend should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at Free parking is available in the Rutherford Boulevard parking lots, with free Raider Xpress shuttle service running periodically to the interior of campus, as well as the lot across from the Student Union.

Presenting sponsors for the conference include Nissan Group of the Americas and the Student Activity Fee Committee, as well as MTSU’s Institutional and Equity Compliance. For a complete list of sponsors, visit the conference website,


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