PRISM sends members to Governor’s Conference

Conference addresses many LGBTQ topics

The 8th Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference took place near Des Moines on Wednesday, April 3, and Prism leader and French teacher Melissa Breddin accompanied four students there. Breddin has been the Prism/GSA leader for eight years and has attended the conference almost every year with students.

PRISM adviser Melissa Breddin took Zach Davis, Matt Waltersdorf (both pictured above), Mychael Johannsen and Alyssa Nielsen to the 8th annual Governor’s Conference, which featured Prince Manvendra Gohil from India addressing LGBTQ topics.

This year one of the national speakers was Prince Manvendra Gohil from India. He is the first openly gay member of a royal family. He works to get homosexuality to be more accepted in India. “It’s neat to see his activism within his own country in his public role,” Breddin said.

According to Breddin, over the years there have been authors, military personnel and professional athletes that have given speeches to the students at this conference.

Throughout the day there are different sessions the students can attend that include subjects like bullying, health issues, running a GSA and learning what it means to be transgender.

An important aspect of the conference is that students meet others like them from other high schools. “By networking from all over the state of Iowa, they see they aren’t just an isolated group at Cedar Falls High School,” Breddin said.

The conference is not only for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. A lot of straight allies attend as well to learn more and show their support.

There are different workshops set up and different booths with things ranging from scholarship opportunities, college information, health information and further life experience information. “It gives them a good outlook for their future. It shows them what is there for them after high school,” Breddin said. “I don’t think bullying is a huge issue here, but it gives some of the kids a great outlook for where their lives can go. There is such a broad world out there.”

The conference has been expanding. “It’s huge and getting bigger every year. We have to keep getting bigger venues,” Breddin said.

Junior Matt Waltersdorf attended the conference because he supports equality. “Pride to me is all about embracing and coming to terms with your own sexuality. Everyone should be comfortable with themselves,” Waltersdorf said. He said people can be more accepting of people with different sexual orientations. “It’s simple: Don’t judge someone for who they love. No one picks who they fall in love with, whether they fall for someone of the same sex or otherwise,” Waltersdorf said.

Melissa Breddin photos

He recommends this workshop to other students. “I had tons of fun, and I was surrounded by lots of accepting people. It really felt good to be thanked for being an ally to the LGBT community. If you enjoy learning about ways to be proactive for the cause and the history, I suggest going to workshops like that. It’s truly an eye opening experience.”

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