WMU News

WMU celebrates National Coming Out Day

Oct. 3, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- WMU's celebration of National Coming Out Day Thursday, Oct. 11, will feature a free public talk by Jay Kaplan, Lesbian and Gay Rights Project attorney for the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union.

The presentation, "Legal Issues Affecting the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community," will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Room 208 Bernhard Center. It will address numerous timely issues, including an anti-gay initiative to amend the Kalamazoo City Charter that is expected to be on the ballot this November.

The ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project advocates equal treatment and equal dignity for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. It works to accomplish these goals by engaging in public education, participating in "impact" lawsuits, and writing and promoting laws and policies that help achieve equality and fairness.

Prior to joining the Michigan ACLU, Kaplan worked for 13 years as an attorney with Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services, where he initiated and ran a project on disability rights and legal services for persons with HIV and AIDS.

National Coming Out Day is annually celebrated Oct. 11 as a time when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are encouraged to take the next step in their individual coming out processes. The date commemorates the first national gay and lesbian equality march, which took place in 1987 in Washington, D.C.

"By 'coming out of the closet,' lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people help to fight homophobia and heterosexism in our culture," says Wanda Viento, coordinator of Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay Student Services in WMU's Division of Student Affairs. "We're all better off when LBGT people can live happily in their identities."

For more information, contact Viento at (616) 387-2123 or <wanda.viento@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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