April 2009
In This Issue
The Laramie Project Controversy
Citizens Project News & Events
Board Opportunities
Training Opportunity

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9to5 Seeks Nominees

Nominations are now open for the 2009 9to5 Awards, which recognize members for their unswerving dedication and activism to improving rights on the job and winning family friendly policies.

For more information, click here or email asha@9to5.org

Upcoming Events
Basic Interpreter Training Webinar
Friday, April 24
10:00am - 11:30am
2nd Floor Conference Room at the Catholic Pastoral Center
228 N. Cascade Avenue
Colorado Springs
RSVP to RSVP: Megumi Esperanza Nakamura at (719) 866.6510 or megumi@ccharitiescs.org
Equal Pay Day Rally and Press Conference
 Tuesday, April 28 12:00pm
West Steps of the Capitol building on Lincoln Street between East 14th Avenue and East Colfax Avenue
For more information, contact Bridget at bridget@9to5.org or call (303) 628-0925
26th Annual Recognition Banquet and Cinco de Mayo Celebration
Friday, May 1
Social and Cash Bar 6:30pm Program
9:00pm Dance
Plaza Hotel
2866 S. Circle Drive Colorado Springs
$80 per person or $800 per table of 10
For more information contact c.abeyta@live.com or ndawahre@uccs.edu
 Cinco de Mayo Fiesta 
 sponsored by El Cinco de Mayo, Inc.

Sunday, May 3
10:30am - 5:00pm
Memorial Park
1605 E Pikes Peak Avenue
Free! For more information contact c.abeyta@live.com

45th Annual Equal Opportunity Gala
presented by
Urban League of the 
Pikes Peak Region
Saturday, May 9th
6:00pm VIP Reception and Cocktail Hour
7:00pm Program
Crowne Plaza Hotel
2886 S. Circle Drive
RSVP by May 4th
For more information call 719-634-1525 or email dwisdom@springsurbanleague.org

Articles of Interest  
DC Voting Rights Bill
 Washington Post
April 1, 2009

Quick Links

Citizens Project Thanks Our Partners:

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The Laramie Project Controversy
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By Martine Wein, Citizens Project Intern

In the fall of 2008, after several years of resistance, Wasson High School theatre teacher Nancy Vogel produced The Laramie Project. The play tells the story of a town's reaction to the 1998 killing of a gay college student, Matthew Shepard, in Laramie, Wyoming. The killing was a hate crime motivated by homophobia.
This time, the play was also about a different community: Colorado Springs and the progress we have made toward tolerance and acceptance. How would our city, which gave birth to the anti-gay Amendment 2 and helped Colorado earn the title "hate state," react to a public school producing a play about homophobia and intolerance?

Ms. Vogel had tried to put the play into production in 2005 and was met with the familiar road blocks. Because the play was so controversial, Vogel ran into resistance with both the principal and the school board. Things were going along smoothly for production when Vogel got wind that her new principal wanted to see her about the play, "Mind you," says Vogel, "in 20 years I had never even discussed my production choices with administration (except in 2005) and I had produced much more controversial plays than The Laramie Project including The Shadow Box, which I had produced in 2006."

In one week the resistance began. Vogel was told that the principal needed to ask permission from his boss to be able to give the go ahead to put the play into production. She was also told that she had to put the play through the district's book approval process. Vogel said she would be happy to go through the book approval process, "as long as every piece of dramatic literature used in the classroom and in productions for the entire district went through the same process. This was not a good way to stop me."

"I decided to fight for this one!" says Vogel. When asked about her reasoning for fighting so hard to put this play into production, she replied, "The major problem was the reasons they gave me not to do the play.  It was censorship and they called it everything but that.  They threw policies at me that didn't exist.  This battle was for all theater teachers.  They were trying to judge a play based on hearsay, and they were trying to create a rule based on one play that did not include any other play ever produced."

Even with the major roadblocks, Vogel was able to finally convince the administration, and The Laramie Project was put into production in the fall of 2008. Because the play was labeled as "controversial," it created much more attention than it normally would have gotten. Ironically, instead of a flood of angry calls from religious conservatives protesting the play, Vogel and her theater students got nothing but support from the community.

Many LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender) organizations joined together and brought meals for everyone involved in the play during late night rehearsals. These organizations include: All Souls Universalist Church, The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, The Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival, Reverend Wes Mullins and Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church. In addition, the Men's Outloud Chorus donated their time and energy to perform two songs during the play.

Many people wrote letters of thanks. One letter came from a former student at Wasson High School saying he was proud to come to the play because he could have never come out as gay while he was in school there.

Another alumna from Wasson donated $1,000 to match the grant support from the Bee Vradenburg Foundation. She lived in Spain and flew back to Colorado Springs just to see the play.

The audience at the play showed, "so much support, so much love and kudos.  I'm still receiving letters and emails from people who were moved by the production.  Many people just really thought that our students were very brave for doing the production.  The students were in the process for so long that they were willing to stand strong and deliver the play to the best of their ability," says Vogel.

The administration's reaction was surprising. As Vogel stated, "I got great feedback.  The superintendent actually came up to me, shook my hand and told me that he thought it was a great show.  The administration had to sit through it three times, so I'm not sure how they felt.  I think they were relieved that nothing negative happened." 

The Laramie Project is about tragedy and transformation. For those who lamented our own city's reputation as intolerant and, like Nancy Vogel and her students, worked tirelessly to promote acceptance and equal rights, the play revealed our local transformation as well.

Most importantly the kids at Wasson who fought for and put on the play had a positive experience from The Laramie Project. As Vogel puts it, "They got to be famous celebrities for a month or so and they got to participate in one of the most powerful and rewarding plays ever written. Fairy tale ending!"

Citizens Project News & Events

Transgender Hate Crimes Awareness Ad Campaign

Citizens Project is proud to be part of a Colorado ad campaign this week to raise awareness about transgender hate crimes. The trial of the murder of Angie Zapata in Greeley Colorado starts this week and will be the first use of Colorado's new hate crimes law encompassing transgender status. We hope it educates the broader community about the need to confront and stamp out transgender bias, discrimination and violence. Thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado and ProgressNow Colorado for spearheading this effort.  Learn more and take action here.

Citizens Project is Moving to a New Office Space!

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We'll be leaving our current space at the VA building (on Spruce Street) for new digs at the corner of Montebello and Academy, effective May 1st. But no need to update your address book -  we're keeping our PO Box for all snail mail.
Citizens Project's Dream City Vision 2020
Join Us and Make your voice heard!
Wednesday, April 29
5:00 - 7:00pm
Carnegie Room, Penrose Library
20 N. Cascade Ave.
Dream City Vision 2020 is a grassroots, community-owned project that engages people throughout the Pikes Peak region in meaningful dialogue to create a brighter future. The goal of Dream City is to promote civic engagement, and to identify common visions and values as well as big ideas that will move us forward in the coming decade.

Join Citizens Project for a facilitated discussion about your vision for the Pikes Peak region in the year 2020!  Please RSVP to kristy@citizensproject.org
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Citizens Project's 5th Annual
Creating Community Breakfast!

Thursday, June 4
7:30-8:30am - FREE
Bigg City Event Center, 5825 Mark Dabling Blvd, 80919
RSVP to kristy@citiensproject.org
Mark your calendar and save the date for the Creating Community Breakfast - one of the most inspiring and motivating events you'll attend all year! This fun and free fundraising breakfast will feature speakers, musical entertainment and a few surprises.  Join more than 400 community members to learn more about the work Citizens Project is doing in the Pikes Peak region to promote equal rights, diversity, religious freedom through separation of church and state and civic engagement.
Board Opportunities

Two Volunteers Needed to Serve on Pioneer Museum Advisory Board
The City of Colorado Springs seeks citizen volunteers to fill two vacated positions on the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum Advisory Board.  The board sets the policies related to museum exhibits, programs and collections, and reports to City Council on matters related to operations and management of the museum and its collections.  Meetings take place on the second Thursday of every month at 2:30 p.m. Potential board members should have a strong interest and willingness to get involved in the development of the Museum and should be able to take a broad view of the needs of the community as a whole.

Two volunteers Needed to Serve on Historic Preservation Board
The City of Colorado Springs seeks citizen volunteers to fill two vacated positions on the Historic Preservation Board.  This board acts in an advisory capacity to the City Council in implementing the Historic Preservation program for the City. It initiates the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone and administers the review of building or demolition permits for properties that are zoned Historic Preservation, among other responsibilities. Meetings take place on the first Monday of even numbered months from 4:30 - 7 p.m. and special meetings may be called for specific projects.  Members of the board also serve on committees that maintain separate meeting schedules.

To apply for either of these boards, send letters of interest and resumes, or the Application for Appointment to a City Board, Committee or Commission by Friday, April 10, 2009 to:

City Council
Attn: Marti Devine Sletta
P.O. Box 1575
Colorado Springs, CO 80901

  For questions or more information, call 385-5453.
Training Opportunity

 Inside Out Services Youth Program Presents a Free Training Oppotunity: Train the Trainer Session for
National Transgender Education Project
 The National Transgender Education Project (NTEP) is an educational series designed by the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center to increase the visibility and acceptance of transgender, gender nonconforming and questioning youth and adults, as well as to help develop awareness of the needs and issues that affect the trans community.  This curriculum has been tailored to non-LGBT organizations that may have youth and/or adult clients who are trans and LGBT-specific youth and adult serving organizations.
Participants will receive preparation for facilitating the modular curriculum with their own organization.  There is no cost to the participants of this training, and lunch will be provided.

For more information or to reserve a spot at the training session, please contact Deborah Surat of Inside Out Youth Services at dsurat@insideoutys.org or (719) 328-1056.

Please RSVP by April 19, 2009

Date:  April 22nd, 2009
       Time:  9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado
315 E. Costilla Street
Colorado Springs