Allies to hold workshops at mental health conference

By Marc Speir
University News Service
February 8, 2008

The Allies of Texas State University-San Marcos, an educational program about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) community, are holding two workshops at the Mental Health and Wellness Conference (MHWC) on campus.

The theme for the conference is to discuss ways to meet the needs of underrepresented individuals and promote a healthy multicultural campus community. Nine speakers will present on March 4 from 1-7 p.m. in the LBJ Student Center. A full schedule of events can be found at

The two workshops for the Allies will take place in room 3-3.1 from 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. and counts as one hour of continuing education credit for each class.

The workshops will also provide an opportunity to network with members and foster learning. Events are free and open to current members, as well as students, faculty and staff who are interested in joining or wish to provide an encouraging environment for the LGBTQ community.

“The workshops provide continuing education and new information,” said Heather Aidala, interim Allies coordinator and psychologist at the Counseling Center. “The program gives those in need a sense of safety and belonging.”

Tracy Deagan will lead a workshop from 1-2 p.m. titled, “Understanding the Gender Continuum: Practical Tools for Supporting Transgender Individuals.” Topics that will be covered include gender identity and the similarities and differences between these individuals and those identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Information on mental health, personal growth, safety and community support services will also be provided.

Toyia Stewart will host the second workshop from 3-4 p.m. titled, “The Two-Headed Monster: Being African and Gay.” Structured around the African experience, this lecture will discuss the historical, cultural, religious and social complexities of being both gay and an ethnic minority.

Individuals who wish to formally become Allies are required to attend a training. The next event will take place April 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in LBJ Student Center room 3-13.1. Upon completion, members receive a placard and pin, which symbolize understanding, support, and trust, including a “safe place” where LGBTQ individuals can speak in confidence.

No RSVP is necessary to attend but registration is required to receive continuing education credit. Registration for both Allies workshops and the upcoming training event can be found at