GSE offers LGBTQ discussion panel

Event Details
Date: Thursday, March 5, 2015
Time: 6:30-8pm
Location: Room 408 PSU Graduate School of Education, 615 SW Harrison, Portland

The Graduate School of Education Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) invites students, faculty, and community to an event that will explore issues around LGBTQ in schools. The event will feature a panel of professionals discussing their experiences as teachers, counselors, and administrators.

It is hoped that participants will:

  • Engage in open and honest dialogue with queer professionals to increase personal comfort and understanding in negotiating queer identity and/or advocacy efforts
  • Begin/continue to develop a personal framework for encountering and making sense of sexual orientation and gender as they manifest in schools

The format of the event will take a two-fold approach. The first 45 minutes will feature panelists as they respond to questions that have been prepared ahead of time by members of the QSA. During the second half, panelists and other professionals will lead small round table discussions that offer attendees the opportunity to share their experiences, fears, and hopes related to queer identity and/or queer advocacy in the workplace.


Brett Bigham is the 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year and a winner of the 2015 NEA Foundation’s Excellence in Education Award. He is the first Special Education Teacher in Oregon to win either of these awards. As an educator he is an advocate for LGBT youth and has been proud to be one of the country’s first openly gay teacher’s of the year. He has been honored at the White House, spoken on LGBT rights at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, DC, and travelled more than 40,000 miles advocating for his students and at-risk youth.

Micah Freeman is seventh grade language arts teacher who has been teaching for ten years in the Reynolds School District. He earned his master of arts in teaching at Lewis and Clark College and is presently teaching full time while earning his degree in clinical mental health counseling at Portland State University. Freeman is one of only a handful of teachers in the country who has transitioned from female to male while working as a public school teacher. Prior to beginning his counseling studies, Freeman co-facilitated an after school LGBTQ support group, co-led his school’s equity team, worked as a union representative, and coached track.

Catie Griesdorn is a 4/5th grade teacher at Arleta K-8 school in Portland. She holds a bachelor of social work degree from the University of Vermont, and a master of teaching (K-8) from Lewis & Clark College. Before teaching, Griesdorn was a wilderness field instructor for Aspen Achievement Academy and a camper/trip leader/counselor/administrator for an amazing summer camp in Northern Michigan. Her passions include community, empathy, and social justice, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Emmett Pearson is an English and drama instructor at Gladstone High School. They hold a Master of Education from Portland State University. Additionally, they run the drama department and serve as co-advisor for the school’s Gay Straight Alliance. Their pedagogical focus is around social justice, grassroots civic engagement, and affirming safer spaces in schools.

Lana Penley is the principal at Marysville K-8 School in Portland. Marysville is a wonderful Title I school in outer southeast with about 15 different languages represented. Penley has an extensive background in education having served as teacher, student management specialist, assistant principal and now, for the last six years, as principal. She has a broad variety of experience on all school levels-elementary, middle, and high, in four different states and at schools with varying demographics. This wide range of experience has allowed her to work with many wonderful teachers, strategies, and commonalities. In addition to her regular work, her two biggest passions are mindful education and LGBTQ advocacy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s