BSU to host Respect Awareness Project events in September

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Aug. 26, 2011) — In September, Bemidji State University’s Center for Health and Counseling will partner with the University’s Phoenix Gay/Straight Student Organization to present a diversity workshop and presentation by reknowned speaker Jamie Nabozny.

“Hospitality Initiative of Servant Hearts, a community-based non-profit, approached us with the idea to implement a Respect Awareness Project,” said Jay Passa, Bemidji State’s health education coordinator. “After many hours of planning over the summer, we have these two major events to present to the community.”

On Saturday, Sept. 10, the awareness project’s major events get underway with “Creating a Respectful and Inclusive Wellness Community,” a six-hour workshop designed to increase knowledge, understanding and ability to successfully work with and serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and adults. The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. in BSU’s American Indian Resource Center.

Presenters will include Dr. Alan Lifson, professor of epidemiology and community health and adjunct professor of infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota; and Troy Weber-Brown, a licensed marriage and family therapist, member of the LGBT Therapists Network and World Professional Association for Transgender Health and board president for Minnesota Family Based Services Association. The workshop also will feature a panel of faculty, staff and students from Bemidji State and other area schools.

The workshop is sponsored by Hospitality Initiative of Servant Hearts, PFund Foundation, Blandin Foundation and Bemidji State’s Student Center for Health & Counseling, Division of Student Development and Enrollment, its social work program and Phoenix student organization.

Registration for the workshop is $25, which includes a continental breakfast, a box lunch, materials and four continuing educational credits in social work. Student scholarships are available through BSU’s Student Center for Health and Counseling; call (218) 755-2080 for details. To register for the workshop, contact Passa or Dr. Angela Fournier, assistant professor of psychology.

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Bemidji State will host a presentation by noted speaker Jamie Nabozny, “A Student, A School and a Case That Made History,” at 7 p.m. in Hagg-Sauer 100. Nabozny, who is featured in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s short documentary, “Bullied,” will speak of his experiences as a young gay man who took a stand against the bullying he experienced in school.

“My years of harrassment ended with a beating that put me in the hospital and required abdominal surgery,” Nabozny said.

After realizing other youths suffered similar fates, he decided to fight back. Nabozny won a landmark lawsuit in federal court establishing that all young people deserve a safe educational experience.

Nabozny’s presentation is free and open to the public.

The primary goal of Respect Awareness Project is to provide new tools, skills and knowledge to better serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth and young-adult population that reside in Bemidji and attending Bemidji State University.

• Jamie Nabozny: