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Rejected workshop proposal for Oregon Disability Megaconference

Date: April 29, 2010

It’s a shame that they didn’t think this was important enough to include in this huge annual conference.

Title: Organizing Support and Social Group for LGBTQ People with Developmental Disabilities within and beyond the Staley/Brokerage System


In January 2010, Bridges to Independence hosted a historic drag show featuring performers with and without developmental disabilities to kick off its LGBTQ Group, a new program consisting of support groups, relationship and safer sex education, community outings, and public events, for LGBTQ individuals with developmental disabilities.

The goal of the program is to support LGBTQ people with developmental disabilities become integrated into the community, especially within the local LGBTQ communities, while providing support and education needed to build and maintain health, safety, and self-esteem.

We also hope to challenge the local LGBTQ communities to become more inclusive of all members of sexual and gender minorities. In this presentation, we hope to discuss our experiences of organizing the group, difficulties we have faced, and how we addressed them.

A special attention is given to how we are funding the program: Bridges to Independence generally works within the Medicaid/Brokerage system of funding social inclusion supports, which we found to be inadequate to support ambitious projects such as this, partly because of the Medicaid’s increasingly narrow definition of what constitutes “disability-related support” (i.e. something related to someone’s disability and not to his or her poverty or sexual and gender identities, even though these things might be intimately linked to their disabilities), but also because many LGBTQ individuals are not enrolled in the brokerage system, and it would be difficult for someone who is not “out” to his or her family members or workers to sign up to receive services through the brokerage system. This realization forced us to seek non-traditional funding sources, such as LGBTQ foundations and LGBTQ community specific fundraisers.

We will also show a short video recording from our drag show, which demonstrates both the need for and the value of this program.