Diversity Center holds annual educational symposium

The Diversity Center in Oklahoma City. Photo by Robin Dorner.

By Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

After graduate school, Kelley Blair said they found themselves not only being identified at their job as being the “token Native therapist,” but, at the time, they were the only gay therapist in the office, too.

Blair (they, them, their) identifies as bisexual/gender fluid and two-spirit. Historically, they had worked in Indian Country and their graduate school research related to their ethnicity.

“As a result, I was given all the Native American and LGBTQ clients that came in for therapy,” they said. “Very quickly, I began seeing some similar themes between my Native clients and my LGBTQ clients. One major theme was [clients] feeling like they had to educate their cisgender therapists about their culture before they could get to the issues that brought them to therapy in the first place.”

Blair explained that pursuing behavioral health services for most are difficult enough and expensive. “I like to say I chose to use my privilege being an educated two-spirt person to get involved with my LGBTQ community.”

Kelley Blair, Executive Director of the Diversity Center. Photo provided.

Several years ago, Blair joined OKC Pride and other LGBTQ organizations to learn more about what type of behavioral health services were available for this community. “It’s funny, in my LGBTQ community I found the role reversal I was now the token ‘therapist’ in the bunch.”

Like most non-profit organizations, fundraising is vital. In 2014, they asked OKC Pride if they could do a fundraiser related to the upcoming Pride parade to teach cisgender therapists to provide more culturally sensitive services to our community.

“2014 was a very small symposium to get our feet wet. However, in 2015, we had close to 200 people attend. I had numerous folks ask me where I was providing services to our community. I realized we didn’t have a designated place for our community for behavioral health by LGBTQ clinicians or a place where you could train behavioral health students to be therapists.”

Blair said with the support of some amazing people, The Diversity Center of Oklahoma was formed. It is in the heart of the OKC gayborhood, at 2242 NW. 39th.
“The symposium truly is the heart of our organization and now our wonderful community center,” exclaimed Blair. “Each year has its own interesting and funny stories of the learning experiences we have gone through to get where we are now. I imagine we will laugh in a few years from now too.”

One of the primary goals of the Diversity Center of Oklahoma (DCO) is to increase the number of qualified practitioners who are better trained and experienced in providing quality treatment for gender diverse and LGBTQ+ populations through education.

The 2018 symposium, “Bridging the Gap,” will be held June 8. It will explore various topics impacting gender diversity and LGBTQ persons and their families, the latest medical treatment options, including theories of mental distress and mental subpopulations through a series of presentations by national speakers, leading clinicians, and professionals in the field.

This is Blair’s fourth annual symposium. “Last year, we had several people come up at the end of the last day with tears in their eyes and say, ‘please keep doing this…don’t stop….it is so important.’”

For LPC, LMFT, LCSW, LADC/CADC, there will be 8 hours of continuing education w/Ethics. Registration begins at 7:15; symposium begins at 8 a.m. at 930 E 2nd St, Edmond, OK 73034.

Keynote speaker will be WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) Board Member, Erica E. Anderson, Ph.D.

For more information about the symposium, or to schedule an appointment at The Diversity Center, call (405) 252-0372. You can visit them on social media,

Copyright The Gayly. May 31, 2018. 9:50 a.m. CST.