A conference on issues facing gay youth will be held here in November, and will feature remarks by Chastity Bono, whose parents made a name for themselves as entertainers Sonny and Cher in the 1960s.
The conference scheduled for Nov. 1-3 is intended to help youths, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials and other people understand concerns that come with being young and part of a sexual minority in Montana, said Sandy Hale, executive director of PRIDE!, a conference sponsor.
“Montana ranks in the top 10 in the nation in teen suicide,” Hale said. “Many of these deaths are suspected to be a result of struggles over issues of sexual orientation. It is a tragedy that schools, churches, parents and community groups cannot reach out and provide needed support and health education to these youth.”
Bono, 25, resides in San Francisco and is a spokeswoman for the National Coming Out Project, which encourages gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation.
Bono’s lesbianism was the subject of an article last year in The Advocate, a national gay magazine for which she is now an entertainment writer.
She also wrote an article about her father, Rep. Sonny Bono, R-Calif.
Other speakers scheduled for the conference include Jeffrey Feathergill, a Helena therapist who will discuss family and peer issues as they relate to stages of development in gay and lesbian youth.
Conference sponsors in addition to PRIDE! include Montana Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the Montana Human Rights Network.