The Welcoming and Safe Schools Youth Conference is a conference which brings together middle and high school students, started in 2012 and 2013, as a Maine Civil Rights Team Conference. After a year off in 2014, we returned in 2015 as the Creating Welcoming and Safe Schools Conference, and welcomed all school and youth organizations to participate. In planning for the 2017 conference, we altered the name from Creating Welcoming and Safe Schools Youth Conference to just Welcoming and Safe Schools Youth Conference.
The mission of the conference has never changed, to create a safe and affirming space for middle and high school youth, along with their mentors and educators, to come together and share best practices and learn from each other. The success of the mission and the conference is seen clearly each year through the presentations, conversations, and smiles on the faces of the attendees.
The conference has been run by Dr. Julie Alexandrin, the first two years with Sarah Rubin, and with Graduate Assistant help for 3 years. Lex Lyon and Sarah RIcker ran the 2018 conference, with generous help from excellent colleagues such as Meg Rooks and Rebecca Bolton.
From the start, GLSEN Southern Maine has been a big supporter of the conference with youth presentations. In 2015, GLSEN SoME became the biggest sponsor for the conference. University of Southern Maine has also been a strong supporter with giving space for the conference each year, and paying for all USM students to attend starting in 2016. New Beginnings was the largest sponsor for the 2018 conference.
GLSEN Southern Maine, The Department of Education, Maine Humanities Council, New Beginnings, and the University of Southern Maine are sponsoring the 2019 conference, on March 21, 2019.
All are welcome to submit proposals and attend the conference.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the planning committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Conference Committee
Lex Lyon is in his seventh year of teaching at Portland Public Schools, has presented at the Welcoming and Safe Schools conference, and currently serves on the board of GLSEN Southern Maine. He stepped in for Julie (previously of GLSEN Southern Maine) last year to plan the conference. He received his Masters Degree in Teaching and Learning at the University of Southern Maine, where he focused his research on what middle school students want teachers to do to best help LGBTQ+ students in middle school. When he is not teaching he is likely surfing or hiking along the coast of Maine.
Sarah Adkins is the Student Assistance Coordinator at the Maine Department of Education. She has been a classroom teacher, a coordinator of afterschool programming, and an assistant principal. In her role at the Maine DOE, she provides guidance to schools about Maine’s anti-bullying law, facilitates discussions about student behavior, and tirelessly advocates for all Maine kids.
Meg Rooks is a librarian for Portland Public Schools and has presented at the Welcoming and Safe Schools Youth Conference. She is the advisor of the Civil Rights Team at Lincoln Middle School as well as the SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Acceptance) group at Lyman Moore Middle School.