2017 Symposium Program and Workshop Descriptions 



The 2017 Illinois Safe Schools Symposium brought together over nearly 250 youth and adults to dream and scheme about what Safe Schools work means to them.  Our keynote speaker was the amazing author of George, Alex Gino, and we held a powerful Youth Activism Plenary and Legislative Advocacy Panel. Check out the program by clicking the cover page! 

Workshop Session 1:


Youth-Centered Lawyering

Owen Daniel-McCarter, He/Him/His; Esq.
Candace Moore, She/Her/Hers; Staff Attorney at Education Equity Project, Esq.

Geared Towards: Attorneys

Description: This professional development workshop will unpack ways that adultism is ingrained in the legal system. From advocating for a transgender inclusion policy at the school board level to defending a student at an expulsion hearing, how do we - as legal advocates - center the youth we are advocating for, share information we hold with young folks, and maintain a trauma-informed lens? This workshop will support participants with concrete practice skills to shift power dynamics when working with youth. 

Facilitation Style: Co-Facilitated Presentation using both Popular Education (Pop Ed) and Traditional Presentation techniques.



Making Health & Wellness Youth-Accessible


Carolyn Wahlskog, She/Her/Hers; Community Education + Gender Programming Manager at Youth Outlook, Senior Program Manager at 360 Youth Services' LGBTQ Transitional Housing Program

Femmily Robison, He/Him/They/Them

Geared Towards: Health Care Providers & Youth

Description: This workshop will outline the myriad of obstacles young people face when trying to access supportive, affirming health care. Led by two advocates who focus on connecting youth with affirming care, the workshop will then turn to a discussion of how providers can counteract adultism in access to care and support exploration of options.


Understanding & Working Against Oppression 


Syd BakalThey/Them/Theirs; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee

Jamie Curtis, They/Them; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee

Geared Towards: Youth Only 

Description: Led by two members of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee, students will discuss how oppression affects lives of young folks, with a particular focus on adultism. Participants will dream and scheme about ways to resist the way oppression manifests itself in activism, schools, and communities.  

Facilitation Style: Popular Education (Pop Ed)  


Regional Youth-Centered Parent Advocacy Panel

Phyllis Gallisath, She/Her/Hers; PFLAG Rockford - Founder and President
Jenny Cowgill, She/Her

Geared Towards: Parents, Adult Allies & Youth

Description:  This workshop will begin with a discussion what it means to be truly youth-centered and ways in which folks can put that ideal into practice. Each facilitator will then discuss their experience of being a parent advocate alongside their child, in less well - resourced areas of the state. They will share their unique perspective around developing community and resources for LGBTQ+ youth, while listening to their child and centering their needs and vision. 

Facilitation Style: Panel + Q & A


Meeting Our Students Where They're At: Youth-Centered Pedagogy

aj jennings, they/them; M.Ed
Karen Krausen-Ferrer, She/Her; Special Education Teacher

Geared Towards: Teachers, School Administrators & Youth

Description: This workshop will be an interactive activity that explores ideas from the book “To Teach: the journey, in comics” by Bill Ayers.  Facilitated by a current and former classroom teacher, this workshop will explore how teachers and school administrators can create environments and curriculum that are youth-centered.  Attendees will leave having had opportunities to think, engage, reflect, and plan for how to make their classroom and school environment more youth centered.   

Facilitation Style: Co-Facilitation Style + Q&A

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  • Evan PruynskiHe/Him/His; National Youth Council Representative of Illinois

  • Hira Zeeshan, She/Her/Hers; Kinetic

  • Xanat Sobrevilla, She/Her; Organized Communities Against Deportations

  • Will PettwayAny pronouns; Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health

  •  Jamie CurtisThey/Them; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee

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  • Mike Ziri, He/Him/His; Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois 

  • Rep. Greg Harris, He/Him/His; Illinois State Representative

  • Khadine Bennett, She/Her/Hers; American Civil Liberties Union

  • Rodrigo Anzures-Oyorzabal, He/Him/His; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Policy & Advocacy Manager

Workshop Session 2:


Designing with and for Youth: Improving Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare with Human-centered Design


Laura ParadisShe/Her/Hers 

Mary FoyderShe/Her/Hers; Senior Design Lead

Amanda GeppertShe/Her/Hers; Director, Ci3 Design Thinking Lab at the University of Chicago

Shannon DelaneyShe/Her

Michael Johnson (MJ), He/Him/His; University of Chicago

Geared Towards: Health Care Providers & Youth

Description: Too often, healthcare services are designed without consideration for, or understanding of, the lived experiences and desires of young people. As a result, young people do not receive the care they might want or need. In this highly interactive workshop, participants will learn and practice approaches to engage each other in building positive sexual and reproductive healthcare experiences with and for young people. We’ll share stories, listen deeply, and incorporate what we learn into novel ideas around the systems and structures to support adolescent-centered care.


From One Nib To Another


Arthur BrownHe/They; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee

Syd BakalThey/Them/Theirs; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee

Geared Towards: Youth, Parents & Adult Allies, Teachers & School Administrators 

Description: Led by two members of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee, this workshop will focus on a discussion of the experiences and perspectives of non-binary individuals.  


Queer Sex Ed


Searah Deysach, She/Her; Owner of Early To Bed


Geared Towards: YOUTH ONLY


Description:  Searah will lead young folks in a presentation on queer sex education, including a discussion of safe sex practices, healthy relationships, consent and more.


Facilitation Style: Traditional Presentation Style + Q&A


Erasure of LGBTQ+ Folks In High School History

John D'emilio, He/Him/His; Professor Emeritus, UIC
Jerome Pohlen, He/Him; Author

Geared Towards: Youth, Teachers & School Administrators

Description: This workshop will look at the way in which high school history curriculum teaches (and more often, fails to teach) students about LGBTQ+ history, and notable LGBTQ+ folks throughout history. That discussion of looking at high school history curriculum through a critical lens will be balanced with a presentation of LGBTQ+ history that is often left out of that curriculum.


Facilitation Style: Traditional Presentation Style + Q&A + Activity


Decolonizing Education


Hana Center 

Geared Towards: Teachers & School Administrators, Youth 

Description: This workshop will uncover the myriad ways public school curriculum is constructed is heavily colonized. It will then turn to a discussion of how to counter that perspective.  


Building Gender Inclusive School Guidelines:

Rodrigo Anzures-Oyorzabal, He/Him/His; Policy & Advocacy Manager, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
Heidi Truax, She/Her/Hers; School Counselor/PhD Candidate/Radical Queerhe/Her/Hers,
Deanna Durica, She/Her/Hers; Berwyn South School District Vice President  
Julie Morris, She/Her/Hers; Harlem School District Superintendent
Dr. Marcus Campbell, He/Him/His; Evanston Township High School Principal

Geared Towards: Teachers & School Administrators and Law & Policy

Description: This workshop will be led by folks with a range of experiences working in public schools. From the perspective of a school superintendent to that of a school counselor, this workshop will provide attendees a wide array of insights on the process of drafting, passing, and implementing inclusive policies in school settings.

Facilitation Style: Moderated Panel

Workshop Session 3:


Building Safer Schools In Southern & Central Illinois


Jordee YanezHe/Him/His, Regional Program Coordinator of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance

Kellen CarterHe/Him/His; Volunteer Coordinator of Central Illinois Pride Health Center

Zach WellsHe/Him/His; Outreach Coordinator VISTA of Central Illinois Pride Health Center

Len MeyerThey/Their/Them; Founder & Executive Director of Central Illinois Pride Health Center

Hannah BangsShe/Her/Hersl Community & Partnerships VISTA at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance

Chris WadeHe/Him/His; Director of Prevention Services, Central IL FRIENDS, Inc & HIV Program Coordinator, IPHA - IL HIV Care Connect

Geared Towards: Teachers & School Administrators, Youth, Parents & Adult Allies, Law & Policy, Health Care Professionals [Centered on folks in Southern/Central IL]

Description:  This workshop will begin by discussing what resources currently exist in Southern & Central IL. It will then turn to a discussion of what resources folks would like to have access to, and discuss a path to seeking out or developing those resources. This workshop will end with the conduction of a youth Needs Assessment survey on behalf of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, the results of which will be used to guide the ISSA as the organization builds out resources into Central & Southern IL.

Facilitation Style: Moderated Panel + Audience Discussion


Madness Mapping


Icarus Project 

Geared Towards: YOUTH ONLY

Description: This workshop will focus on mental and emotional wellness, with a particular focus on the concept of Madness Mapping. Madness Mapping is a practice in which individuals create a type of "living will" that delineates what is helpful to that individual when they are experiencing a mental health crisis, which they then share with people they feel comfortable holding that information. That way, that individual's loved ones can be equipped with the knowledge of what that person needs to feel supported when experiencing a mental health crisis and may not be able to express it. 


Restorative Approaches to School Discipline


Juan PadillaHe/Him/His/or use name; VOYCE Organizer  

Candace MooreShe/Her/Hers; Staff Attorney at Education Equity Project  

Geared Towards: Teachers & School Administrators 

Description: U.S. schools overwhelmingly take a punitive approach to disciplining students. This workshop will provide examples of alternatives to "traditional" means of addressing harm in school including restorative practices that consider conflict from the perspective of opportunity for growth, community-building, and healing. This workshop will also include a discussion of advancing restorative justice practices in school through the law, with a specific focus on Senate Bill 100.  


The Legal Landscape: The Paths Toward Inclusion

Alex McCray, He/Him/His
Juliet Berger-White, She/Her; Partner, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd.
Nicki Bazer, She/Her


Geared Towards: Youth, Attorneys, Teachers and Administrators


The workshop facilitators for this session have a diverse range of experiences in advocating for inclusive policies in public schools. This workshop will delve into each of those areas of expertise with a discussion of the current legal landscape in schools, steps for advocacy within the school environment, and discussing Alex's personal experience with advocating for inclusive policies in his school.   


Facilitation Style: Traditional Presentation Style


Advocating for Queer-Inclusive Sex Ed In Schools


Scout Bratt, They, Them, Theirs; Chicago Women's Health Center, Outreach & Education Director

E Marshall, They/Them/Their

Jennifer Leininger, She/Her; M.Ed. Program Manager, Gender Program at Lurie Children's Hospital

Zaiden Sowle, She/Her/Hers

Geared Towards: Youth, Teachers & School Administrators, Health Care Professionals, Parents & Adult Allies


Description: During this workshop, attendees will hear from facilitators who have experience in actively advocating for queer inclusive sex ed. This discussion will consider why medical accuracy, inclusivity, body positivity, and autonomy over one's body are essential components of a sexual health education. It will balance that discussion with a framework for approaching school administrators about creating an inclusive curriculum around sexual health.


Facilitation Style: Traditional Presentation Style + Panel + Q&A


Know Your Rights In School


Alissa S. James-Anderson, She/Her/Hers
Nathan Petitehomme, He/Him/His; Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee Member


Geared Towards: Law & Policy, Youth, Teachers & School Administrators

Description: This workshop will focus on the Constitutional rights students are guaranteed, as it pertains to school settings. This conversation will be framed by first conducting a basic civics lesson, then delving into a more specific and nuanced conversation about how folks' Constitutional rights apply in schools.


Facilitation Style: Traditional Presentation Style + Activity