LGBTQ advocate to speak at YES

Speaker addresses negative impact of conversion therapy at IUPUC series

A nuclear engineer who has addressed Congress and the United Nations will speak about the harms of conversion therapy next week in downtown Columbus.

Samuel Brinton, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with dual master’s degrees in nuclear engineering and tech policy, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St., said Sandra Miles, dean of students and director of student affairs at IUPUC.

Miles said that IUPUC wanted to connect people with the topic of conversion therapy, noting that Brinton’s ability to put a human face on the subject was important.

Conversion therapy is described as “a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBTQ equality.

The presentation is part of the university’s Excellence in Leadership Initiative speaker series.

Brinton serves as head of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youths. He formerly served as senior policy analyst for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and was a clean energy fellow at Third Way, a think-tank based in Washington.

Brinton also is known for his bright red mohawk, which started as a dare in graduate school, and continues to turn heads, along with his characteristic stiletto-heel shoes, according to biographical information from Keppler Speakers, which represents Brinton, based in Arlington, Virginia.

Aurora Willman, who serves as IUPUC’s student government president, said it is important to talk about conversion therapy because too many people don’t realize that it is still being practiced and is legal in many states.

“Having been a victim of conversion therapy, Brinton will be giving an insight into this antiquated and taboo topic,” Willman said.

Willman also said Brinton will be speaking about his 50 Bills 50 States campaign, which would stop the use of conversion therapy in every state.

“One of the many reasons I feel this presentation is important is because no one wants to talk about conversion therapy,” Willman said. “This pressing issue in our society needs to be addressed and changed. It is not meant to elicit sympathy for Brinton. It is educating people on the detrimental and lasting effects conversion therapy has on those who are forced to endure it.”

If you go

What: Samuel Brinton presentation as part of a speaker series by IUPUC

Where: YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St.

When: 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19

Cost: Free, open to the public

Author photo
Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com