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The entrance to the University of Georgia's LGBTQ Resource Center in Athens, Georgia, on Thursday, December 21, 2017. (Photo/Kayla Renie, kayla.renie96@gmail.com)

The pursuit of higher education is often coupled with personal education. Students use college as a time to learn more about their sexualities and explore themselves and the types of people in this world. Those who identify as LGBT may use college as a time to find other members of the community. Beside various on-campus clubs like the Lambda Alliance and the LGBT Resource Center Ambassador program, one way students can learn about the LGBT community is at the Connect Conference.

The conference is organized by the LGBT Resource Center and will be held this year on Feb. 24 in Tate Grand Hall. It is designed to create solidarity and build community within the LGBT community. However, the opportunity for education should go beyond sexuality or gender identity. Everyone, either inside the LGBT community or not, should still take the opportunity to learn more about different types of love and living.

“There are so many educational parts of the Connect Conference,” said Logan Riddle, a senior Psychology major from Vidalia and fifth year Senior Ambassador in the LGBT Resource Center Ambassador Program. “You have sessions about gender identity, you have sessions about specific sexualities, you have sessions about sex and sexual health and stuff like that, which is really great.”

The conference can be a safe place for learning for anyone.

“It’s just a place for people who are in the community to learn more about their own community and smaller communities within the overall community, and see representation of themselves, and people outside the community get to learn about the LGBTQ+ community in a chill, fun setting. It’s almost like a choose-your-own adventure kind of thing,” Riddle said.

Even if you’re not a part of the LGBT community, there is something for you to learn about either through advancing your knowledge within the queer community or through safer and healthier sex. Everyone will encounter someone who is queer in some way, and the Connect Conference is designed to educate and help everyone become an ally for someone else. It’s a place of solidarity, expanding one’s worldview while connecting people with fellow University of Georgia members.

Best of all, the Connect Conference is free to UGA students, faculty and staff. All you need to contribute is your time and an open mind.

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