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March 14, 2011

ULM's Diversity Forum to feature local attorney March 16

The ULM College of Education and Human Development Diversity Committee invites all who are interested in diversity issues and education to the Spring Diversity Forum in Strauss Hall-Room 270 on Wednesday, March 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

This interactive forum offers an overview of the legal and ethical responsibilities shared by all educators in the public education system.

The event is free and open to the public. Two continuing learning units (CLUs) will be received upon recommendation.

The Diversity Forum will feature Wesley Eby Johnson of Escamilla, Poneck, & Cruz, L.L.P., who will share her legal expertise on current trends in federal policy and law relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, parents and colleagues that are often encountered in educational settings.

Drawing from current court cases and national headlines, the presentation will address recent guidance from the Office of Civil Rights regarding sexual orientation harassment and bullying issues; free speech issues that arise in public school settings; as well as ethical and moral dilemmas that educators can face when addressing issues that pertain to the sexual orientation of individuals.

As legal counsel for numerous school districts in the state of Texas, Johnson brings a neutral and preventive law approach to this sensitive topic that is helpful for anyone who is currently in the public education setting or plans to be in the near future.

"Regardless of one's personal opinions and beliefs," said Johnson, "if one works in a public school setting, diversity issues will arise and the prudent educator will be up to date on the public school's legal obligations regarding sexual orientation issues."

The event is the second forum sponsored by the CEHD Diversity Committee. The committee works closely with the ULM Diversity Committee to create and promote programs that highlight diverse perspectives.

"Events such as this forum and last month's Black Arts Festival create a space for dialogue that has the potential to educate ourselves and our community," noted CEHD Diversity Committee Chair Dr. Lynn Clark.

"Our motto is 'Diversity makes ULM thrive.' We are lucky to be at a time and a place where these kinds of conversations can happen,'" said Clark.

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