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Dan Savage, known for his "Savage Love" syndicated advice column and creator of the It Gets Better Project to help prevent youth suicide, will be the keynote speaker at the University of North Texas' 12th Equity & Diversity Conference Feb. 7 (Tuesday).
With a theme of "The Power of Peace is the Harmony of Inclusion," the conference is aimed at students, educators and professionals who are committed to equity and diversity in the workforce and in higher education. More than 200 people have already registered for the conference, which will include sessions exploring conversations about race, religious inclusivity beyond political correctness, engaging students in learning outside the classroom, and assistance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic violence.
Savage's keynote address will be at 10 a.m. in the Silver Eagle Suite of UNT’s University Union, which is located one block west of Welch and West Prairie streets at 1155 Union Circle. He will discuss the It Gets Better Project, in which adults create and upload short positive videos aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers, telling them about the levels of happiness, potential and positivity that their lives could reach as adults and helping them imagine a positive future.
Originally on YouTube, the project now has its own website and includes more than 22,000 entries from adults of all sexual orientations. Celebrities and political leaders who have contributed videos include President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Lady GaGa, Tom Hanks, Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry.
Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, began the project in September 2010 following a string of suicides by gay youths in Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Their video reached out to middle school and high school students, telling them that even if they are bullied for their sexual orientation, life will get better after high school graduation. Within days of the video being posted, Savage had received dozens of homemade videos from those wishing to contribute to the project.
Last spring, Savage published a book of essays based on the website and its videos, "It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living." In June, Savage won a Webby Special Achievement Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences for the It Gets Better Project, which was also named one of the top social media campaigns of 2010 by "Advertising Age."
Savage is well known for his relationship and sex advice column, "Savage Love," which he began writing in 1991 in the Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger. He is the author of four books and has been a contributor to the syndicated radio show "This American Life," to "Out" magazine and to "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO.
The Equity & Diversity Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in UNT's University Union. Participants may register only for the morning session, which will include Savage’s keynote address, or for the entire day.
Registration fees for the Equity & Diversity conference is $100 for UNT faculty and staff members, $150 for non-UNT students and $275 for others. Onsite registration will be available the day of the conference. To register, go to http://edo.unt.edu/content/conference-registration-form-0.
For more information about the conference, contact UNT's Multicultural Center at 940-565-2711.