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Regional PFLAG conference in Hamilton

Hamilton will host the annual PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Pacific North West Conference this weekend at the Bitterroot River Inn. The theme for this year’s meeting is “Big Sky/Big Dreams.”
“We are thrilled to bring PFLAG chapters as well as other allied groups from all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana together in Hamilton for a fun-filled weekend that will inspire them to renew their commitment to advocating for equality and dignity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” said PFLAG’s volunteer regional director and Pride Foundation board member Kathy Reim, who will travel to the conference from Skagit County, Washington.
The conference kicks off Friday, September 21, at the Bitterroot River Inn (http://www.bitterrootriverinn.com/). The local host chapter PFLAG Hamilton-Bitterroot has organized local tourism activities to welcome conference participants to the community. Activities include hikes, a bike ride, Daly Mansion tour, auction of a half day float and fishing trip on Sunday afternoon and viewing of coffee roasting followed by a welcome and introduction to the downtown area of Hamilton. Tourism options can be viewed at www.pflaghamiltonbitterroot.org.
Keynote speaker Dr. Robert Minor, emeritus professor of religion at the University of Kansas, will address how to defuse religious arguments used to justify discrimination of LGBTQ people. Following his presentation, there will be a no-host reception with Walla Walla wine as well as beer from a local brewery and entertainment by local talent.
Saturday’s offerings begin at 9 a.m. and include workshops which are pertinent to many non-profit organizations and who are all invited to attend. The presentations will include how to avoid volunteer burnout, creating a plan for your organization, how to better engage straight allies in faith communities, a panel on transgender experiences, how to have a more fulfilling relationship geared toward LGBTQ couples, and techniques which promote safe schools for everyone. Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG National, will be the special guest presenter. Huckaby was born and raised in Eunice, Louisiana and has served as the Executive Director of PFLAG National since 2005. Jody brings a unique family perspective to his role with PFLAG because he is gay and has three gay siblings and four straight siblings. During his time with PFLAG, he has become a visible spokesperson on issues impacting LGBT families and allies, appearing on “Oprah” and being quoted in national news outlets such as Newsweek, ABC News and in the Associated Press.
Lesbian icon, singer-songwriter Cris Williamson, will perform a benefit concert for the Bitterroot PFLAG chapter at the Victor Performing Arts Center on September 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.org
Conference sessions continue Sunday morning exploring how to build more successful boards of directors, understanding leadership styles and how to carry forth the hope and inspiration of the conference back to the various communities represented from across the region. Jean Hodges, Vice President of PFLAG National, will round out the conference with, “Heading Home with Hope,” where she will share her experience of family and community transformation.
Teachers and all categories of counselor professionals will receive continuing educational credits for each program attended up to a maximum of 10 credits if all conference presentations are attended. For a full schedule and registration information, visit www.pnwpflag.org.
PFLAG is the nation’s foremost family-based organization committed to the civil rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons. Founded in 1973 by mothers and fathers, PFLAG has 200,000 members and supporters in more than 368 chapters throughout the United States. To learn more visit www.pflag.org.

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