On Saturday, March 26, University of Richmond will host a Q-Summit conference for LGTBQ youth leaders ages 17-25. More than 80 youths from across the South will convene for a full day of workshops, community building activities and discussions of issues in their communities. 

The conference is a partnership with University of Richmond’s Office of Common Ground, VCU’s Gender and Sexuality Studies program, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), UR’s Students Creating Opportunities, Pride and Equality (SCOPE), and ROSMY.

There will be 20 students from University of Richmond, and the rest of the participants will come from cities all over Virginia, such as Longwood and Hampton.

Although Richmond has hosted three Q-Summit conferences in the past, Maddy Dunbar, LGBTQ programs assistant for Common Ground, said that this year’s attention was going to create a different experience for participants than last year.

“This year, we tried to really put a focus on racial justice," Dunbar said. "We’ve always had discussions about racial justice, but we’re making it more explicit."

Joshua Kim, the head intern of public relations and registration for Q-Summit, said that the event would have an all-summit opening workshop that will focus on racial justice. This workshop will be led by their partner, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), which is a queer activism group that focuses on southern leadership and southern youth, Kim said.

In addition to racial justice, Dunbar stressed that the keynote speech’s topic would be integrated into the conference. “Our keynote is going to be focusing on allyship and what it means to be an ally in social justice work," Dunbar said.

The keynote speaker will be Ashleigh Shackleford, a prominent advocate for black queer and transgender people, who focuses on femmes and women.

There will be several discussions throughout the event led by selected youth, who will present their workshop proposals that fit into one of the three main categories: art space, skill shares, and political and analytical space. Before registration, any youth attending the event had the chance to submit a proposal for a workshop, an opportunity intended to encourage young people to speak up.

One of the workshop proposals for art space will be led by freshman Kylie Britt. Her topic is called “Empowerment Through Movement,” and she will use different dance, acting and improvisation techniques to encourage comfort in movement.

“A resource I have to offer is feeling comfortable with your body and being comfortable in motion, using motion and movement as a way to portray how you are feeling, to portray power, and taking up space as a form of power,” Britt said. “It’s encouraging comfort in one’s own movement as a way to come to terms with one’s identity.”

Both Kim and Dunbar will discuss a topic as well. Kim will lead a workshop titled “Being a Queer Person of Color,” and Dunbar will co-host a workshop on leadership and representation in social justice circles called “Defacing the Movement: Leadership and Representation in Queer and Racial Justice Circles."

Because of the initial lack of Richmond students, the registration deadline was extended, and Richmond students can still sign up for the Q-Summit. However, disability accommodations cannot be made because of the short notice.

Contact news writer Stephanie Hagan at stephanie.hagan@richmond.edu