Monday, October 3

Upcoming Ohio Unity Summit brings together LGBTQ+ education, law, and policy

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With legislation across Ohio targeting the LGBTQ+ community, the need for responsive lawyers who can defend and advocate for the voices of the LGBTQ+ community is more important than ever.

The LGBTQ+ community will be the focus for the Unity Summit at the Ohio Statehouse on April 28th.

The event was designed by the newest class of Fellows from the Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF). Each Fellows class designs its own class experience, creating a Fellows Week of Service centered around a topic they choose. This year, the 2021 OSBF Fellows class is focusing on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community for the Fellows Week of Service, culminating in the Unity Summit.

Participants at the Unity Summit will have the opportunity to learn more about the community and how to more effectively support LGBTQ+ equality. An array of panelists and moderators from different disciplines will be presenting, including Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Supreme Court of Ohio; Micah McCarey, Director of the LGBTQ Center at Ohio University; and Dr. Scott Leibowitz, Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital THRIVE Program.

Plus, the event is not just for lawyers! The invitation is open to attorneys, social workers, educators, and other members of the public who want to focus more on LGBTQ+ needs and making a difference.

“I’m really excited about it,” says Joseph Wenger, an Ohio attorney and board member of OSBF. “We’re really optimistic about this event.”

Joseph Wenger

The Buckeye Flame spoke with Wenger to learn more about the Unity Summit and its potential impact on the LGBTQ+ community.

Describe for us the Unity Summit.
The Unity Summit is a panel discussion event with healthcare providers, legal experts, community activists, and educators. We will be discussing issues and topics that are of importance to the LGBTQ+ community. 

Why is this event important?
I think we’re experiencing a really tough moment for those of us who are in the LGBTQ+ community. There is a lot of focus on us historically, and especially right now in legislatures around the country. The impetus behind the Unity Summit was to not focus necessarily just on the bad things that are happening or the challenging issues, but to imagine an Ohio where LGBTQ+ citizens are valued, respected, and accepted by our communities, and to really explore what that might look like.

What will people get out of this event?
I think there are several different impacts from this event. For people who aren’t as familiar with our community, this will provide everything from sort of an introduction to general terminology, who we are, and our issues. But for those who are more familiar with our community, this will really allow us to have a sense of community and togetherness as we explore some of these challenging issues.

What role can lawyers play in Ohio to serve the LGBTQ+ community?
There’s a tremendous need for service among members of the LGBTQ+ community, and being able to offer culturally competent, humble, and knowledgeable representation should be a goal for Ohio lawyers. For Ohio lawyers who are interested in community service, there’s a tremendous opportunity for pro bono, volunteer services, especially for members of the trans community who are looking to access name change, birth certificate, and gender marker changes. 🔥

Ignite Action:

  • Attend the Unity Summit on April 28th. The event is open attorneys, social workers, educators, and other members of the public who want to hear from LGBTQ+ community voices. More information and registration form here.
  • Registration fee is $25 which includes lunch and up to 4.5 hours of CLE/CEU credits. Scholarships are available on an individual, as-need basis. Please contact LRay@osbf.net to learn more.

About Author

Cassidy Naypauer is a future Speech-Language Pathologist who has always been passionate about writing, languages, and travel. She double-majored in speech pathology and Spanish at Miami University, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in speech pathology at Baldwin Wallace University.

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