The White House announced on Friday it plans to host a series of LGBT conferences throughout the country in early 2012 so the public can “hear directly” from the administration on efforts “to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans.”
In a statement, the White House identified the White House LGBT Conference on Health — which will be held in Philadelphia on Feb. 16 — as the inaugural event for the initiative. The conference is set to feature remarks from Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The statement says the events — which will take place from February to June 2012 — will be a collaboration between the White House Office of Public Engagement and other departments and agencies. Expected attendees include grassroots leaders, community organizers, advocates, students and others.
Future White House LGBT conferences after the initial event will be held in other places throughout the country. Topics are set to include housing and homelessness, safe schools and communities as well as HIV/AIDS prevention. According to the White House, more details will be made public later.
Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign, said the conferences are “a good sign that the administration is attentive to the needs of our community.”
Absent from the list of planned topics for discussion at the conferences is employment discrimination. No federal law prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Advocates have been pushing President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal dollars from going to contractors that lack LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.
Asked whether one of these conferences would address employment discrimination, a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The list of topics is not comprehensive.”