This conference focuses on switch points among sex, race, and sexuality. We call it Switch Point Stories – instead of using the more conventional language of intersectionality – to call to mind the criss-crossing stories continually passing through an old-fashioned telephone switchboard. Panelists will tell stories from a variety of disciplines, speaking in a variety of genres including memoir and spirituality.
Building on insights from preceding conferences at Santa Clara and Ohio State Law Schools on sex, race and sexuality, Switch Point Stories explores new approaches to inequalities in sex, race and sexuality by presenting a range of discourses that seek to address problems occurring at switch points among identity categories. Panels includes legal academic discourse alongside stories from science, government, community organizing, and religion, often using memoir to illustrate the human impact of law and policy. As a whole, the conference strives to spark new understandings about how legal rules and practices collude with inequality, and what kinds of actions can improve government service, activism, and the everyday lives of everyday people.
Thursday, March 28
6:30 p.m. Welcome Dinner
Andrea Cristina Mercado, Political Director of Mujeres Unidas Y Activas
Jose Bahamonde-Gonzalez, Associate Dean, University of Maryland Carey School of Law
Friday, March 29
8:30-9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
9:00-9:15 a.m. Welcome by Dean Phoebe Haddon
9:15- 9:30 a.m. Introduction to Switch Point Stories
Martha Ertman, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Carey School of Law
9:30-11:00 a.m. Panel 1: AIDS/HIV (moderated by Deborah Weimer, UM Carey Law)
This panel explores way that government actors and academics in both public health and law can maximize the utility of AIDS/HIV interventions, and also equalize the costs born in dignity and privacy by members of various groups who make up the populations either positive or at high risk. Panelists explore identity categories like men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM), and how public health policymakers and implementers should tailor their measures to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, as well as the too-often undiscussed risks of African-American women for HIV infection. As a whole, this panel illustrates how difficult – if not impossible – it is to understand, regulate, and treat HIV/AIDS without a sophisticated appreciation of the ways that the virus’ path is shaped at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality.
11:00 -11:15 a.m. BREAK
11:15-12:30 p.m. Panel 2: Intersections of Sex, Race, Gender Juvenile Justice (moderated by Susan Leviton, UM Carey Law)
Teenagers live at the switch point between childhood and adulthood: sexually mature, yet still developing mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. This panel, in turn, includes intersecting views of childhood through literary theory, legal reform, and activists’ attempts to remedy the pressing real-world concerns of LGBT kids. On the theoretical front, an English professor explains the switch point metaphor’s ability to decode discussions of race, gender and sexuality by tracing her own history as a queer child, suggesting that high theory can help academics, pediatricians, and the rest of us more clearly conceive childhood and queerness. Turning to law, a leading litigator of LGBT cases describes how domestic violence and zero-tolerance anti-bullying measures can paradoxically harm the very people they are intended to protect by propelling more young people into the criminal justice system. Activists round out the panel by demonstrating the many ways that race, religion, socio-economic factors, access to health care and immigration status play a central role in the vulnerability of LGBT teens, and what law can do to make things better.
12:30-1:30 p.m. LUNCH
Serena Mayeri (University of Pennsylvania Law School) (abstract)
Commentators: Jennifer Levi (GLAD & WNEC)
Kimberly Washington (Univeristy of Maryland School of Social Work)
1:30-3:00 p.m. Panel 3: Unexpected Coalitions: Dream Act/Marriage Equality/Domestic Worker Legislation (moderated by Marley Weiss, UM Carey Law)
The panel on unexpected coalitions taps the power generated at the switch points where the academy, the legislature, and activism intersect, with the goal of putting that energy to good use. In New York and California, an unexpected coalition of law students and activists played a central role in fighting for, and in the case of New York, enacting domestic worker protections. By transcending identity politics, those coalitions attract students who’ve studied queer theory and are eager to embrace social justice projects focused on the intersections of race, sex, sexuality, class, and immigration status. The conference began with a discussion of domestic worker protections, Thursday evening’s keynote speech by Andrea Mercado of Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and this final substantive panel seeks to explore how unexpected coalitions that criss-cross race, religion, class, gender, and immigration status can and have led to successful reforms like domestic worker protections, marriage equality, and the Dream Act. Falling toward the end of the conference, we hope that its insights, on top of material in the earlier panels, will spark future campaigns and reforms
3:00 -3:15 p.m. BREAK
3:15 -4:30 p.m. Panel 4: Concluding Thoughts Roundtable (Moderated by Martha Ertman, UM Carey Law)
Panelists will situate the day’s discussion within the larger context of the two earlier sex, race and sexuality conferences at Santa Clara Law School and Ohio State Law School, and anticipate directions for further discussion at next year’s conference at Washington University Law School.
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception
Co-Sponsored by the Women, Leadership & Equality Program; LGBT Alliance; Black Law Students Association; Latino/a Law Student Association; Women’s Bar Association; Law Students for Reproductive Justice; and the University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class.