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K-State Today

April 21, 2023

LGBTQ+ Leadership Conference Friday, April 21

Submitted by Brandon Haddock

The LGBT Resource Center in Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs invites the campus community to the 2023 Kansas LGBTQ+ Leadership Conference: "Rise Up, Act Up!" on Friday, April 21, at the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center. The sessions and keynote are free and open to all.

The schedule is available online at the conference website.

Stephanie Byers, former state representative of Kansas and 2015 K-State graduate, will be the keynote speaker at 11 a.m. in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union. 

Byers is the recipient of the 2018 GLSEN-Kansas State Educator of the Year and the 2018 GLSEN National Educator of the Year, and she recently retired after 29 years of teaching for Wichita Public Schools. For 28 years, she was the award-winning director of bands and orchestras and fine arts department chair at Wichita North High School. Byers is an Oklahoman by birth and a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. For three decades, Byers called Wichita home, but she has recently moved to San Antonio, Texas. She and her wife, Lori, own and operate a company that assists corporations, community groups and schools with understanding how to work with gender-diverse communities.

Since coming out publicly as a transgender woman, she has advocated about issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. She has spoken at rallies on the steps of the Kansas State Capitol, outside the U.S. Supreme Court, and given presentations to several local community organizations, as well as public school faculties and student bodies. Byers served as the communications director for Wichita Pride, the organization that hosts Wichita's LGBTQ+ pride events, and she has volunteered for a number of other local Wichita nonprofits.

In 2020 Byers became "Rep. Stephanie Byers, Kansas House of Representatives." She represented Kansas House District 86, an urban district in Wichita, and was sworn into office Jan. 11, 2021. Her election made history — not only is she the first openly transgender person to serve in the Kansas Legislature, she is also the first Native American trans person elected to any state legislature in the United States. Her campaign and subsequent election to office were considered so significantly historic that her website from the campaign has been archived by the United States Library of Congress. Byers served on the Kansas House's Water Committee, Education Committee, and K-12 Education Budget Committee.

Byers is currently a member of the board of Equality Texas and serves on the Democratic National Committee's Trans Advisory Committee.

Byers received a Bachelor of Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University in 1986, and a Master of Music from Kansas State University in 2015.

The Kansas LGBTQ+ Leadership Conference is sponsored by the K-State LGBT Resource Center, Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs, Dow Center for Multicultural and Community Studies, ConocoPhillips, and Commerce Bank.