CoastOut will hold its first community education conference this year in partnership with Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour.

The conference will bring together academics from the disciplines of health, psychology and law to talk about the latest research on gender and sexuality in rural and regional Australia.

The keynote speaker will be Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome, best known for fronting the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania.

Croome’s other LGBT community and human rights work includes founding Tasmanian LGBT support organisation Working It Out.

As a member of Tasmania’s four LGBT community-government liaison committees, he has played a role in establishing homophobia education in Tasmania’s state schools and Police Service.

Croome is also the campaign coordinator of Australian Marriage Equality. His advocacy for marriage equality includes being the co-author of the first book on the issue published in Australia.

Conference presenter Daniel Witthaus has challenged homophobia in Australian schools for almost 15 years through developing the Pride and Prejudice educational package and training young people, teachers and health professionals.

In 2006 Witthaus joined the International Advisory Committee of the Global Alliance for LGBT Education.

Last year Witthaus completed a 38-week Beyond That’s So Gay national anti-homophobia tour of regional and rural Australia, launching his first book, Beyond ‘That’s So Gay’: Challenging Homophobia in Australian Schools.

The conference includes a Q&A session with drag legend and Northern Rivers resident Vanessa Wagner.

INFO: CoastOut Conference, Room D350, Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour, Friday, October 28, 9am-5pm. Register at www.coastout.com.au

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