Hundreds of Utah's LGBTQ youth to gather at statewide summit
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Hundreds of Utah LGBTQ students are scheduled to meet up for a statewide summit in Orem next month to find solidarity and discuss issues like bullying and educational and career advancement.
The event, called Ignite, aims to bring together LGBTQ teens from Utah's rural and urban areas and those involved in gay-straight alliance organizations.
Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis, one of the organizers, said Friday that the event was prompted by several gay-straight alliance students saying they had trouble coping with bullying and isolation in school.
Dabakis said the event is modeled after Mormon youth conferences and is being put on with help from organizers of the LoveLoud Festival, an August concert in Orem headlined by rock band Imagine Dragons that raised funds for organizations supporting at-risk LGBTQ youth.
Organizers of the Ignite summit, scheduled for Dec. 2 at Utah Valley University, expect about 600 students to attend.
In Utah, where as many of two-thirds of the state's 3 million residents are members of the Mormon church, LGBT youth have struggled to find acceptance.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has tried to carve out a more empathetic tone on LGBT issues in recent years while upholding theological opposition to gay marriage and homosexual activity amid widespread social acceptance.
Striking that balance is tricky, and makes gay Mormons and their supporters often feel whiplash.
Earlier this year, the church voiced its support for the LoveLoud Festival. That was followed by high-ranking church leader Dallin H. Oaks reaffirming the religion's opposition to same-sex marriage during a church conference last month.
He said that children should be raised in families led by a married man and woman no matter what becomes the norm in a "declining world."