Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sexual Orientation: Promoting Resilience and Healthy Outcomes for LGBTQ and Gender Diverse Students

March 28, 2022 | 8:15 am - 2:30 pm

Registration is closed

This conference is free for all Massachusetts educators.
In-Person registration is now closed. You may still register to attend virtually.

Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School
112 Ashley Blvd.
New Bedford, MA 02745

Registration: 8:15 - 8:45 am
Conference: 8:45 am - 2:30 pm

Speakers: Senator Julian Cyr, Jeff Perrotti, Founding Director, MA Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students; Colby Swettberg, Ed.M., LCSW, Landan Callahan, Consultant and Elijah Oyenug, Consultant

Conference Description
This conference will highlight laws, policies, best practices, and resources for supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) students and families, with a focus on transgender and gender diverse students. As some children are socially transitioning their gender as early as preschool, this conference will feature the experiences of students, parents, and educators who have successfully navigated this terrain.

About the Speakers
Senator Julian Cyr serves in the Massachusetts Senate representing Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. First elected to the State Senate on November 8, 2016, Julian is now serving in his third term and is among the youngest senators in the 40-member body. He is the Senate Assistant Majority Whip; Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery; Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion; Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs; and serves on committees with oversight of health care policy, public health, telecommunications and energy, COVID-19 emergency management, and redistricting. Julian has experience in public policy, health advocacy, organizing, and social justice. Prior to his election, he served as director of policy and regulatory affairs for environmental health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Previously, under Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, he worked closely with members of the Legislature as deputy director for government affairs at the Department of Public Health. From 2011-2017, Julian also served on the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth, including a highly productive tenure as chair in 2013 and 2014. 

Jeff Perrotti, M.A., C.A.S., is the founding director of the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, an antibullying initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth. He is the co-author, with Kim Westheimer, of the book, When the Drama Club is Not Enough. Jeff has conducted numerous workshops on gender, sexual orientation, and school climate for school administrators, counselors, teachers, health providers, parents, coaches, and students. Jeff is the 2020 recipient of MIAA’s Michael J. Kane Award, given in recognition of efforts to promote the health and well-being of children and young adults across Massachusetts. Jeff facilitated the development of Massachusetts’ pioneering Guidance on Gender Identity and has assisted schools across New England where students have transitioned their gender. Jeff also teaches and advises students at Harvard University, where he has received several awards for excellence in teaching.

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.

Landon Callahan graduated from Fitchburg State University in 2021 with a BS in professional communications and a minor in political science. He is a public speaker and advocate for transgender rights. His public speaking experiences include guest lecturing at Harvard Law School and Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has been involved in creating guidance and policy at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as it relates to transgender student rights. He has also helped develop model curriculum units for History, English, and Health classes at the elementary, middle, and high school level.

Elijah Oyenuga is an LGBT Inclusion and Awareness Consultant. Elijah started his career working as a Peer Leader for Boston Gay Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS) where he first learned to facilitate LGBT Cultural Competency/Responsiveness workshops, delivered in the public schools, focused on creating understanding, awareness and respect in order to stop the bullying and exclusion faced by many LGBT youth. Since then, Elijah has worked for the DESE’s Safe Schools program, guiding administrators on the path to providing safe and supportive environments for LGBT students. He has been recognized for his efforts in LGBT activism by Partners in Sex Education, and served as the keynote speaker for GLSEN and Amherst Public Schools, and now he continues to support LGBT youth and allies through support of Gender-Sexuality Alliances and as a LGBT Safe and Supportive Environments (SSE) educator.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about participating in the webinar. A continental breakfast and lunch are included for those who attend, in person. Professional Development Points (PDPs) and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be awarded to educators from MPY member school districts.

Slides available here.

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

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