Later this month, ACA will once again be a co-presenting sponsor (along with the National Education Association) of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Time to Thrive Conference. ACA has been a supporter every year that this event has been conducted. It is the only conference I know of where national professional associations, state-level advocates and LGBTQ teens and young adults come together for three days of workshops, discussion and networking.
ACA has taken pride in its support of Time to Thrive, and I am grateful for our members and leaders who have presented and shared their knowledge of how best to help clients and students from the LGBTQ community. In addition to the high-quality presentations from our ACA members, I am so impressed by the eloquence and advocacy of the LGBTQ teens and young adults who also present. They tell their stories not to earn sympathy but rather so that we can all become better advocates.
Sometimes, I wish that those who seek to marginalize LGBTQ youth and dismiss their concerns would attend this conference. Without question, those who attend leave with more compassion for and knowledge about the issues facing young LGBTQ people.
As an outgrowth of ACA’s support of Time to Thrive, we also partnered with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation this past year to develop five webinars for professional counselors to use regarding the career readiness and preparation of LGBTQ young adults. Professional counselors who take these webinars and work with LGBTQ students and clients will enhance their skills and gain critical insights, with a specific focus on youth and young adults who navigate college and career readiness issues. These webinars, funded through a grant from the PepsiCo Foundation, provide continuing education credit and are provided at no cost to ACA members.
Professional counselors who work in school settings are key to helping LGBTQ youth. Creating safe spaces, providing an anti-bullying environment and working toward elimination of the discrimination that these youth face are well within the scope of professional school counselors. For those of you who work in K-12 school settings, thank you for all that you do to ensure safe, empowering and caring environments for all students. With February including National School Counseling Week (Feb. 5-9), I hope that you will participate and take pride in your profession.
Many of you may know that the American School Counselor Association created National School Counseling Week many years ago. Although I think professional school counselors should be celebrated every week of the year, this is the one designated time that we ask you to let your communities know about the good work being done in school counseling. I encourage practitioners and school counselor educators to celebrate and promote National School Counseling Week and this important group of counselors. For more information about how best to promote National School Counseling Week, go to ASCA’s website at www.schoolcounselor.org/school-counselors-members/about-asca-(1)/national-school-counseling-week.
Also, don’t forget that April is Counseling Awareness Month. Visit the ACA website at counseling.org for more information and resources. This is a special year because we will be holding the ACA Conference & Expo in Atlanta (April 26-29) during the time that we are celebrating Counseling Awareness Month. That has not occurred in many years. During this time in our history when the advocacy of professional counselors is needed more than ever at local, state and national levels, I think it is fate that more than 4,000 professional counselors will be gathering to network, learn and get reenergized for the work they face in 2018.
As always, I look forward to receiving your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep. Be well.