More than 2,500 college students from across the country are expected to attend the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference or MBLGTACC, also known as “Mumbletalk,” from Feb. 7 to 9 at the Kansas City Convention Center.
Now in its 22nd year, MBLGTACC is being hosted for the first time in Missouri.
“We are honored that UMKC is hosting this transformative conference — it’s an incredible opportunity for our students and campus” said Jonathan Pryor, coordinator of UMKC LGBTQIA (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning Intersex Ally) Programs & Services and co-adviser of MBLGTACC. “I was a small-town Kansas kid in college when I first attended this conference several years back, and to be surrounded by hundreds of other people like me was incredible.”
UMKC hosting this important conference makes sense, say student leaders, because Kansas City’s university is globally recognized for welcoming LGBTQIA students, faculty, staff and administrators. Korean television and The New York Times have noted UMKC’s policy for inclusivity of student identities and building design. Newsweek named UMKC No. 5 in its Gay-Friendly College Rankings. Alumni and friends of UMKC have been generous and donated money for Pride scholarships for LGBTQIA students.
“As thinkers and doers, it is up to us to take measure of not just our academic and scholarly efforts, but of our devotion to justice and equality,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “Those values require more than talk. They must be lived out in our classrooms, on our athletic fields, in our residence halls and any place where all students deserve respect.”
MBLGTACC features four keynote speakers including regional celebrities: Chely Wright, native Kansan and American country music artist; writer and transgender activist Janet Mock; Iraq War veteran Rob Smith; and designer and “Fashion Star” winner Kara Laricks, a Kansas City area native.
MBLGTACC will host workshops led by students, faculty and professionals to educate and motivate students to action. Participants will attend five sessions from a list of more than 90 workshops with topics such as safe sex, activism basics, creating change on campus and ally-community building.
The group of UMKC students organizing the conference bid for and were awarded the rights two years ago. Ever since, they have been busy planning what is expected to be the largest convergence of the conference ever, with attendees from nearly all 50 states.
The conference theme ‘Jazzing It Up’ is multifaceted with its origin rooted in the rich jazz culture Kansas City is known for, said UMKC senior Roze Brooks, the student chair of MBLGTACC.
“With the implications of the carefree, soulful music genre, we also interpret this theme for our LGBTQIA community,” Brooks said. “The conference weekend is all about acknowledging and celebrating our accomplishments. As student leaders and activists, we deserve to take a moment and commend ourselves on the work we’ve done. Although there are always steps to be taken and changes to be made, assessing how we’ve reached each milestone is paramount to understanding how to continue moving forward.”
For more information about the conference or to register, please visit MBLGTACC2014.org.