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Join us for the 2024 Adolescent Health Symposium!

This annual gathering of educators, youth workers, educational administrators, community leaders, and health and human service professionals advances key topics in the areas of health education and adolescent wellness. We are honored to have four renowned keynote presenters with diverse perspectives, as well as dedicated breakout session facilitators presenting a diverse assortment of topics in alignment with our three symposium tracks:

  1. Risk Factors
  2. Health Promotion and Protective Factors
  3. Emerging Health Issues

Although the delivery format has evolved over time, the foundational goals remain the same. Please select the breakout sessions that best meet your personal and professional needs. You do not have to remain solely in one breakout session track throughout the Symposium. Engage in active learning and prepare to return to your organization with new and exciting insights and strategies for working with today’s youth.

The Symposium is offered in cooperation with the UW-La Crosse Department of Public Health and Community Health Education, UW-La Crosse Graduate & Extended Learning and the UW Oshkosh Division of Online and Continuing Education.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

9:00-10:15 a.m. Welcome and Keynote Presentation

Using Key Findings from the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) for the Advancement of Healthier Youth in the U.S.: A Call to the Nation
Presented by: Dr. Kathleen Ethier, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Adolescent and School Health
Young people in the United States are collectively experiencing a level of distress that calls on us to act. Findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey highlight concerning levels of violence, poor mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among adolescents. Results show significant disparities in these experiences for certain groups of youth. Among other striking findings, female students are experiencing particularly high rates of sexual violence. Findings also confirm ongoing trauma among LGBTQ+ students. Supporting adolescent health and well-being is critical. Proven school-based programs can offer the support young people need to prevent and reduce the negative impact of violence and improve mental health.

Learning outcomes:
Review key risk behaviors and experiences challenging the adolescent population in the U.S.;
Reflect on protective factors that lessen the negative effects of risk behaviors and experiences among adolescents;
Differentiate trends over time in adolescent risk behaviors and experiences;
Support actions that can promote the health and well-being of our nation’s youth;
Commit to actionable next steps that are within their capacity to make a difference.

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break

10:30-11:30 a.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

1. E-cigarettes and Adolescents: Helping Teens Live Vape-Free (Track 1)
Presented by: Brian Williams, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and the UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention
E-cigarettes remain popular among adolescents and curbing their use has been challenging. We will explore e-cigarettes, their evolution, trends in use, associated health harms, and clinical approaches to preventing initiation and treating addiction.

Learning outcomes:
Understand current trends in e-cigarette use among adolescents; 
Recognize the harms e-cigarettes pose to adolescent health; 
Appreciate current evidence supporting e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid; 
Identify ways to prevent and treat adolescent e-cigarette use. 

2. Making a Distinct Difference with Our Youth Through Mindfulness and Contemplative Practices (Track 2)
Presented by: Ryan McKelley, PhD, Professor of Clinical/Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
This breakout session will explore the latest research from Jon Haidt and Jean Twenge on the negative effects of social media, digital devices, and lack of play on adolescent mental health. We will review how the basic tenets of mindfulness and other contemplative practices can be used to reclaim teens’ sense of agency in their well-being. Participants will learn several simple interventions that can be taught to adolescents at home, school, or in clinical settings.

Learning outcomes:
Articulate the latest research findings on the impact of technology on teen mental health;
Describe interventions for deepening and integrating more self-awareness into ordinary daily activities when not formally meditating;
Demonstrate several mindfulness contemplative practice techniques to help adolescents and ourselves improve executive functioning and agency in coping, and reduce stress, anxiety, and aggression.

3. Dissecting Disconnection & Creating Connection in a post-COVID world: A Neuroscience perspective on youth mental health concerns, and what we can do about it (Track 3)
Presented by: Ariel Andrew, LEO Program Coordinator, CW Solutions
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the globe, resulting in sudden and drastic changes to daily life. The extent to which COVID isolation policies have impacted mental health is still being researched, but one thing is clear: the way our youth connect to themselves and their world has been disrupted, leading to new mental health concerns amongst our youth. The question now becomes, what are we going to do about it? What can we do?

In this presentation, we will look through the lens of the LEO (Learn and Empower Oneself) Program to learn how the human brain is wired for connection, how that wiring impacts our decision-making, and how learning the language of our emotions may be the key to developing resiliency, increased self-worth, and improved mental health in a post-pandemic world. The LEO Program is an evidence-informed resiliency program based in neuroscience that has partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to serve youth aged 12-20 throughout Wood and Adams Counties in Wisconsin.

Learning outcomes:
Review an overview of the human brain, how it’s wired for connection, and how it impacts our emotions and influences our decision-making;
Understand human emotion as language, and how learning that language strengthens impulse control, resiliency, and adaptability in an ever-changing world;
Recognize the vital importance of safety, connection, and self-worth in a disconnected, post COVID world.

11:30-11:45 a.m. Break

11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Lunchtime Keynote Presentation

Connecting with Community Partners for Collective Action Addressing Youth Mental Health
Presented by: Angela Flickinger, Healthy Eating & Active Living Program Manager, UW-Madison Division of Extension, and Danette Hopke, Behavioral Health Program Manager, Health & Well-Being Institute, UW-Madison Division of Extension
This session will share unique partnerships and funding strategies that have been developed with community coalitions, schools, state agencies, and others. We will share examples of local efforts that have lifted youth voices, supported advocacy, improved school culture and environments, and reduced stigma through best practices. These collaborative efforts have proven to increase capacity across organizations and positively impact youth mental health in local communities.

Learning outcomes:
Increase awareness of unique community partnerships and how collaboration increases capacity to address youth mental health;
Learn about the examples of Wisconsin community-based efforts addressing mental health;
Learn about resources and best practices that will increase your capacity to enhance youth mental health in your community.

12:45-1:00 p.m. Break

1:00-2:00 p.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

4. Walkin’ a mile to school in Teen Shoes: WRAP Map Findings (Track 1)
Presented by: Lorraine Smith, DNP, MSN, Assistant Professor of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Emily Carlson, Youth Advocacy Advisor, Eau Claire County Alliance for Substance Misuse Prevention
This interdisciplinary research project explored how the local business community could influence commercial tobacco use in teens. The research team consisted of nursing students from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, a faculty mentor, and a community partner. Data were gathered on environmental influences that impact teen access to commercial tobacco products in Eau Claire County. A field study investigation was conducted to gather data using an abbreviated version of the Wisconsin Retailer Assessment Program (WRAP) assessment tool. From these data, a WRAP Map of Commercial Tobacco Retailers within one mile of high schools and middle schools in Eau Claire County were pinpointed. Over 40 Commercial Tobacco Retailers met this one-mile criterion and were surveyed for advertising information, price promotions, product placement, and self-service tobacco displays (WRAP risk factors). These factors largely influence teen access to commercial tobacco products in Eau Claire County. This research project provides an upstream prevention focus that can lead to a healthier Eau Claire community and showcases how undergraduate nursing students can impact teen health in the greater community through collaborative research efforts.

Learning outcomes:
Increase knowledge in environmental factors that impact teen access to commercial tobacco by listing three risk factors measured in the Wisconsin Retail Assessment Project (WRAP) tool;
Gain skills in applying the WRAP Map findings to different sectors in the community (e.g., legislative, health department, coalition, parents) to increase awareness of teen risks and limit teen access to commercial tobacco products;
Gain an increased awareness of the benefits of partnering universities with community agencies to positively impact teen health using an upstream team approach.

5. #BeTheStrongForce – Every child needs at least one supportive adult to maintain stability and create positive health outcomes (Track 2)
Presented by: Meg Whaley, Health and Physical Education Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Are you a supportive adult? In this session, participants will hear about the impact of a supportive adult in our K-12 schools and how that impacts educational and health equity. Data from the YRBS and ABES will demonstrate the impact and shine a light on the current experience of youth in Wisconsin. While understanding that educators cannot undo all sources of trauma, historical inequities, and cultural differences, we can recognize and lift up protective factors. Attendees will take away strategies and skills to practice and apply in their journey to supporting those around us.

Learning outcomes:
Reflect on strategies for equitable and inclusive instruction;
Consider application of protective factors to create equitable and inclusive learning environments;
Commit to providing stakeholders with empathy and support.

6. Incorporating Youth Voice into Community Work: PATCH Youth Consulting Services (Track 3)
Presented by: Haley Strouf Motley, MD-MPH Student, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
The inclusion of youth voice in systems and institutions that affect them is mutually beneficial. Meaningful participation in youth-serving initiatives offers relational and developmental benefits to adolescents, and it improves the quality of decisions made by participating organizations. Providers and Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH) elevates youth voices by partnering with youth ages 12-21 throughout the State of Wisconsin in the Youth Advocacy Fellowship. This session will expand upon the structure of the PATCH Youth Advocacy Fellowship by explaining the PATCH Youth Consulting services, which are a key component of fellowship activities. PATCH provides training to youth advocates in leadership, advocacy, and constructive feedback. PATCH staff also works closely with organizations to outline goals and arrange consulting sessions. In consulting sessions, youth provide constructive feedback directly to organizations looking to incorporate the youth voice into their projects. This presentation will describe the rationale behind the consulting services, outline the consulting process, and provide testimonials from key stakeholders including PATCH staff, youth advocates, and clients seeking consultation. Participants will leave with an understanding of best practices for youth engagement and information on opportunities to partner with PATCH and their Youth Consulting services.

Learning outcomes:
Enrich knowledge of PATCH programming and services;
Understand best practices for incorporating youth voice into projects across different communities and organizations;
Reflect on the benefits of PATCH Youth Consulting services as identified by key stakeholders including fellowship coordinators, community clients, and youth advocates;
Explore opportunities for partnership with PATCH and utilization of Youth Consulting services.

2:00-2:15 p.m. Break

2:15-3:15 p.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

7. Is Banning Books Bad for Their Health? Utilizing Young Adult Fiction and Narrative to Support Empathy and Positive Identity for Mental Health (Track 1)
Presented by: Sarah Pember, MT, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Public Health and Community Health Education, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
This session will focus on how to use contemporary young adult (YA) fiction as a gateway to help adolescents explore difficult and challenging health topics, specifically those related to self-identity and understanding of others’ diverse lived experiences. Although social media apps, like TikTok, are exposing youth to a broad variety of health issues and promoting activism, there remain powerful opportunities to reach students through literature, not only supporting the development of critical thinking and comprehension, but also the exploration of health issues they are experiencing themselves and those with which they don’t have firsthand experience. In this session we will revisit the Literature Circle Model of small group discussion shared last year, and focus on how rather than trying to prevent youth from engaging with difficult and sensitive topics in fiction, allowing their engagement with narratives can actually positively impact mental health, increase empathy, and encourage the development of stronger connections within the classroom. Through structured discussion and lessons related to advocacy, students can further develop their empathy for those whom they may perceive as ‘other’ while considering how to promote awareness and support in their greater community of the issues affecting these groups.

Learning outcomes:
Recognize the value of reading and discussing young adult (YA) fiction as a pedagogical strategy for health education;
Align classroom discussions about YA fiction with the National Health Education Standards;
Support students in developing increased empathy for others who are experiencing health-related issues, such as racism, poverty, or mental health concerns;
Support positive reinforcement of social identities within the classroom (and ultimately the wider world);
Facilitate discussions with students to more fully engage youth in the exploration of important health-related issues that can make a difference in their lives.

8. “I’m so proud of how hard you’re trying”: A photovoice analysis of youth mental health (Track 2)
Presented by: Sara Kohlbeck, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin
Pre-pandemic, students across Wisconsin experienced an increase in feelings of sadness or hopelessness, anxiety, suicide attempts, and suicide ideation. Wisconsin Black youth specifically faced an increase in suicide attempts and deaths at a quicker rate, compared to groups with historically higher rates. Additionally, young adults in Wisconsin, ages 18-24, experiencing any mental illness increased between 2015 and 2019. More recently, a significant increase in emergency visits due to suicide attempts was found for Black and non-Hispanic white females ages 12-17 in Wisconsin, at an increase of 79% and 58% respectively between 2019 and 2021.

While the breadth of impact of living through the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of youth in addition to these mental health challenges is still being determined, recent insight from Wisconsin students highlight the repercussions of isolation and the increased anxiety related to health risks. This session will describe a qualitative research project that leveraged photovoice and focus group techniques to gather information about stress and wellness among youth and young adults across Wisconsin. Identified themes from focus groups, along with photos and emblematic quotes will be shared. Points of intervention across the social-ecological model will be discussed. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the mental health strengths and challenges of youth and young adults in Wisconsin.

Learning outcomes:
Identify how to effectively use photovoice methods to document the mental health and well-being experiences of youth and young adults;
Explain unique mental health strengths and barriers for Wisconsin youth and young adults;
Describe potential points of intervention across the social ecological model based on photos and focus group themes.

9. The Freedom to Explore: Outdoor Education to Create an Exploratory Space for Every Student (Track 3)
Presented by: Lori Danz, 2023 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Superior School District
The benefits of nature to positive mental and physical health are well documented. This session will focus on implementing experiences used in outdoor education to create space for every student in any classroom. We will explore how lessons learned in nature can help adolescents explore personal and academic interests, and as a result, develop a stronger sense of self identity.

Learning outcomes:
Become aware of research that supports the social and emotional benefits of outdoor education, and how outdoor education creates an environment that fosters equity;
Learn how to implement practices used in outdoor education in any educational setting as a way to think outside of traditional classroom practices in an effort to promote positive and safe social and emotional classroom environments.

3:15-3:30 p.m. Break

3:30-4:30 p.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

10. Supporting Sturdiness in Youth (Track 1)
Presented by: Elizabeth Power, M.Ed., Founder, The Trauma Informed Academy
Many are tired of a singular focus on “resilience” or “self-care.” What about sturdiness? How do we help adolescents respond to chronic stress, support their sturdiness in the face of that stress, and help them continue their development? We will talk about the impact of overwhelming events on their development, and present strategies that support sturdiness, resilience, and recovery from trauma–without talking about trauma.

Learning outcomes:
Identify reasons for framing overwhelming events as forms of chronic stress;
Recognize the relationships among self-care, sturdiness, and resilience;
Discuss the role of inner connections and self-regulation in personal sturdiness;
Describe at least three of the seven C’s in Ginsberg’s model of resilience;
Show at least one method for using the 7Cs model of resilience to develop sturdiness.

11. Youth Athlete Health Promotion: Wearable Technologies and Evidence-Based Insights from Sports Medicine (Track 2)
Presented by: Shane Murphy, PhD, ATC, PES, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, College of Science & Health, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Physical activity in youth has become increasingly structured with organized youth sport. While organized play and sport specialization are more commonplace, so are various acute and overuse injuries. These injuries commonly alter how the body moves, either due to neuromuscular pain or loss of function. While these injuries can be responsible for cessation of activity in our youth and lead to long-term health consequences, mitigating and managing these injuries can be challenging. This session aims to provide an evidence-based perspective on monitoring the health of youth athletes, with specific applications to youth hockey, volleyball, and distance running. Further, we will explore different wearable technologies, bracing, and other implementations common in sports medicine, examining their application to a young population. Other topics such as returning to learn following a concussion, adaptive sport, and non-traditional athletes will be shared, along with various resources for those supporting youth athletes.

Learning outcomes:
Recognize barriers to youth athlete health in organized sport;
Summarize tools commonly used to monitor athlete health in sport;
Reflect on feasibility of applying biomechanical tools to youth athletes.

12. Engaging Adolescents in Adventure and Experience-Based Learning for Social and Emotional Benefits (Track 3)
Presented by: Christopher Stratton, EdD, Assistant Professor, Human Kinetics and Health Education, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Adventure and experiential-based education is a staged-based model incorporating communication, problem-solving, trust-building, and other team-building activities that offer opportunities for adolescents to build social and emotional skills through student-centered activities. In this session, participants will be provided with curricular examples of how this staged process can develop their student’s social and emotional competencies and be applied in a skill-based health program. Evidence of the value this curricular model can add to achieving your school’s social and emotional goals will also be discussed.

Learning outcomes:
Discuss current and new classroom activities and how to apply skills-based health concepts while using an adventure and experiential-based learning model;
Participate in activities that analyze and apply adventure and experiential-based learning activities to students’ social and emotional competencies.

Friday, February 16, 2024

8:15-9:30 a.m. Keynote Presentation

Civic Learning: Planting the seeds for a healthy democracy and cultivating community identities for our kids
Presented by: Sarah Kopplin, 2023 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Social Studies Teacher, Shorewood School District
In this session, participants will learn how the American education system has marginalized social studies and civics education, and the impact that this has had on civic engagement for America’s youth. Research will be presented to demonstrate how important and powerful this learning is for students, especially students from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. See ways educators of any subject and grade level can construct learning opportunities for students that focus on an authentic purpose and promote civic engagement.  

Learning outcomes:
Develop an understanding of the impact of the marginalization of social studies and civic education in our American schools in favor of high stakes testing subject areas;
Examine qualitative and quantitative impacts of strong civic engagement educational opportunities and authentic learning in schools for diverse student populations;
Identify opportunities and examples for authentic learning that promote civic engagement that you could utilize in your school and professional practice.

9:30-9:45 a.m. Break

9:45-10:45 a.m. Presentation and Interaction Sessions

13. Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics: State Dependent Functioning – How Stress and Distress Influence Thinking Feeling and Behavior (Track 1)
Presented by: Ted Stein, MS, Stein Counseling and Consulting Services
Our brain mediates almost all of our functioning and our functioning is largely determined by our internal states moment to moment and our sensitivity to internal and external demands.
During different states of arousal (e.g. calm, fear, sleep) different systems are activated and impact how we think, feel, act, learn, access information, acquire and store information, what feels rewarding, and our IQ functioning. This presentation will focus on state-dependent functioning, the changes associated with changes in internal states, and how to change our sensitivity to demands (distress) towards resiliency. Dr. Bruce Perry has been a mentor to Ted Stein for the past six years in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics as Ted completed his Level 3 Mentor Training in 2023.

Learning outcomes:
Understand state-dependent functioning and the influence on adolescents (and ourselves);
Recognize differential states and how to interact with others based on this model;
Understand and develop rhythms and patterns that can change our level of vulnerability to stress from vulnerable to resilient;
Understand how a sensitized stress response system based on early childhood adversity influences state-dependent functioning and why some kids overreact to even the smallest events/demands.

14. Exploring the Process and Meaningfulness of Civic Engagement in the Classroom (Track 2)
Presented by: Sarah Kopplin, 2023 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, Social Studies Teacher, Shorewood School District
Promoting Civic Engagement in the classroom fosters healthy community identities for young people according to longitudinal research. Currently, the term civic engagement has become synonymous with partisan political disagreements. In this session, we will delve into the following questions and examine data and research-based practices surrounding the learning of civics and provide you with tools and strategies to implement in your classroom and school community:
What is civic engagement in the classroom and what is it not? Examining learning best practices and the current Wisconsin K-12 Wisconsin Civics Scope & Sequence.
What does successful civic engagement focused learning look like in the K-12 classroom? Becoming familiar with the Educating for American Democracy framework and the 6 Proven Practices in Civics Education. Examining examples from Illinois and Massachusetts and some local Wisconsin educators.
How do these learning experiences translate into the lives of your students beyond the classroom? Reviewing the data sets to see how civics instruction and civic engagement at young ages impacts teen mental health and American civic engagement in adulthood.
How can you cultivate learning experiences that provide students the opportunities for civic engagement in your classroom and school community? High leverage instructional practices that you can implement and where you can find resources and professional development to support further learning in the area of building civically engaging learning experiences for students.

15. From Social Media to Sex Ed: How Adolescents Get Health Information Today (Track 3)
Presented by: Dr. Orlaith Heymann, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Dr. Alese Nelson, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Dr. Heymann’s talk will focus on the experiences of sexual health educators teaching a controversial subject to adolescents in K-12 schools. Certain health topics, like sex and sexuality, are controversial and stigmatized and this can shape how health information is provided (e.g., vaccines, abortion). In this talk, Dr. Heymann will describe how sex educators feel perceived as “dirty workers” and the challenges they face in providing a needed health intervention in K-12 schools.

Dr. Nelson will discuss social media and diet. There is a great deal of health information distributed online, including diet recommendations. Much of this information is available on social media, and from unreliable sources (such as “influencers” and celebrities). She will focus on health information online, how we perceive information depending on source, and the importance of understanding the role of social media and its influence on adolescents.

Learning outcomes:
Increase awareness and knowledge of the ways in which health information is communicated in sex education and social media, two contexts where many adolescents get relevant health information;
Understand problems and challenges in how this information is distributed and received to aid in improving these systems;
Highlight current data regarding adolescent exposure to such health information to emphasize their unique experiences;
Identify special considerations for this group that health educators may find valuable.

10:45-11:00 a.m. Break

11:00 a.m.-Noon Presentation and Interaction Sessions

16. Wisconsin Drug Trends (Track 1)
Presented by: Lt. Joseph Tenor, Deputy Sheriff/Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Instructor, Calumet County Sheriff’s Office
Today’s youth have more access to drugs and impairing substances than ever before. The internet, local dispensaries, vape shops, and vending machines are selling impairing substances and have no legal requirement to prohibit underage sales. These substances are ending up in our schools, in our homes, and in motor vehicles. This session will provide an overview of Wisconsin’s most likely drugs of abuse that threaten adolescent health.

Learning outcomes:
Identify the latest in drug trends;
Become acquainted with common drug paraphernalia, drug packaging, and what today’s drugs look like;
Increase awareness in red flags that could cause you harm;
Become aware of signs and symptoms of drug use;
Learn about effective classes and resources to further your knowledge in drugs and drug use.

17. Strong Inside and Out (Track 2)
Presented by: Kristy Wood-Giles, Natural Health Coach, Out of The Woodz
Participants will learn how to develop and maintain a positive self-image through self-awareness, acknowledging strengths and embracing uniqueness. The participant will come to be able to evaluate and identify their perceived weakness in a new way, celebrate individuality and avoid comparisons with others.

Participants will understand more the influence of powerful self -talk and how to benefits from this information and counteract less supportive efforts. A simple but valuable tool will be developed to help build resilience. An understanding of the role self-care and self-compassion play in goal setting to seek true empowerment and resiliency.

The presenter is a Nutritionist and Health & Fitness Coach who became mentally and physically challenged due to a chronic illness. Her knowledge and lessons in recovery are used as examples in the presentation.

Overall, the seminar aims to provide participants with the tools, knowledge, and support they need to develop a positive body image and maintain it as they navigate life.

Learning outcomes:
Understand the importance of self-esteem and body positivity;
Experience an awareness of personal strengths;
Gain a new perception of weakness as possible strengths;
Develop a greater sense of self and one’s value in being an individual and embracing one’s uniqueness;
Formulate an understanding of the physiological reaction in the body with thoughts, feeling and emotions;
Prepare a kit that serves as a helpful tool, support systems and positive influences;
Engage in goal setting related to healthy habits such as good nutrition, exercise and self-care;
Explore an optimistic approach to the future with attention to focus, influence and action;
Derive an understanding of the value of inspiration over motivation and self-compassion skills;
Specify tools and understandings that will guide each participant through life with ease and strength.

18. The Future is Nonbinary and Queer (Track 3)
Presented by: Willem Van Roosenbeek, LGBTQIA+ Services Director, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
LGBTQQIAAAPNB2S – just to name a few identities withing the community. Recent 2020 research showed 9.5% (1,994,000) of the U.S. population of youth ages 13-17 identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community (Conron). This number continues to go up every year. LGBTQ+ youth are coming out at younger and younger ages. More than half (56%) of LGBTQ+ youth say they are out to their immediate family and 25% are out to the extended family (Human Rights Campaign). Young people are embracing their identities and are more open to others who come out. As a society are we ready? In the past few years, states have advanced a record number of bills that attack LGBTQ+ rights, especially transgender youth. As of July 2023, there were 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the U.S. (ACLU). Are you ready? Come learn about the LGBTQ+ community, today’s youth, and the struggles they face.

Learning outcomes:
Identify terminology and example of identities within the LGBTQ+ community;
Illustrate the barriers and the needs of LGBTQ+ youth;
Discuss inclusive practices for LGBTQ+ youth.