Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Creating Safer Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth & Families

November 9, 2021 | 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Registration is closed

Speaker: Colby Swettberg, Ed.M., LCSW, CEO, The Silver Linings Institute

Webinar Description
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) young people and families face disproportionate rates of discrimination, isolation, and stigma. Consequently LGBTQ youth are at much higher risk for substance abuse, homelessness, truancy and mental health challenges, among other risky behaviors. By contrast, professionals who are working with youth and families, however accepting they may feel, are rarely prepared to manage the issues that arise in schools and social service settings. This interactive workshop will explore how personal beliefs and values, school or agency culture, and culturally responsive policies and practices can impact the provision of services for LGBTQ youth and families. Participants will build skills and gain practical tools to help create safer spaces for LGBTQ young people and families.

About the Speaker
Colby Swettberg is a former educator who started the first gay-straight alliance in the Pennsylvania school district where Swettberg taught.  Colby later went on to work as the Assistant Director of SpeakOut, the nation's oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ+) speaker's bureau, and was subsequently hired by The Home for Little Wanderers to help start Waltham House, the first co-ed group home for LGBTQ+ youth in the country.  In their role as Director of LGBTQ Services, Swettberg provided training and consultation on sexual orientation and gender identity issues to child welfare agencies, schools, businesses, mental health facilities and non-profit organizations nationwide. The Massachusetts Department of Children & Families hired Colby and a team of trainers to conduct LGBTQ+ cultural responsiveness training for over two thousand social workers in the state.  This training initiative set a national precedent which Colby has since helped other states to replicate.

Colby received the outstanding student achievement award for leadership at Harvard University and later earned recognition from the Los Angeles based Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS) as a GLASS Champion and was named Massachusetts Democratic Future's LGBT Advocate of the Year in 2002.  Swettberg has written for the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide and contributed a chapter to The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's groundbreaking publication "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness." 

Colby earned a Masters degree in Education at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.  While in graduate school, Colby co-directed and produced "Learning to be Straight:  The(De)construction of Heterosexuality," an educational film that Colby has since presented in numerous academic and organizational settings.  As their professional focus gravitated toward child welfare, Swettberg returned to graduate school to earn a Master of Social Work degree at the Simmons School of Social Work. In 2012, Colby was honored to be chosen by then Senator John Kerry for the “Angel in Adoption” award for advocacy efforts on behalf of youth in foster care. In 2013, Colby was honored to receive the Excellence Award from national child welfare organization Youth Villages for service to youth in foster care. In 2017 The Barr Foundation named Colby as a Barr Fellow. 

Since 2009 Colby Swettberg has been the Chief Executive Officer at Silver Lining Mentoring, a Boston-based non-profit which provides youth in foster care with long term mentors and essential life skills.   

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about participating in the webinar.

Membership Information
Most MPY webinars are available to ONLY current staff from member districts and organizations. Public school memberships include police and fire personnel. Former and retired employees and members of committees, including but not limited to, PTO/PTA, PAC, School Improvement Councils, Health Councils, Drug/Alcohol Councils, and school volunteers, are not considered MPY members.

PDPs and CEUs
MPY is an approved Professional Development Provider through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (F20180079 provider number). Professional Development Points (PDPs) are offered for all MPY professional development webinars. PDPs are issued for a minimum of 10 hours of training.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available for clinical staff from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association, Inc. (MaMHCA). The NASW and the MaMHCA approves each event. Event participants may request CEUs by filling out the request form above. 

Requests for PDPs and CEUs must be submitted within 8 days of the webinar. PDPs and CEUs will only be issued to participants who have attended the webinar(s) and submitted the appropriate paperwork within 8 days of the webinar, with accurate accountability codes. 

PDP and CEU certificates will be emailed to attendees at the end of the school year.

Event Cancellation Policy
If you are unable to attend any MPY event after registering, you must cancel online at least 72 hours prior to event. For assistance email

Colby Swettberg, Ed.M., LCSW

Colby Swettberg, Ed.M., LCSW

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