Blogger Perez Hilton has increasingly tried to use his own influence to benefit good causes. He sits on the National Advisory Council for the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership, for example. It's a nonprofit based out of San Diego State University. On February 15, CESCaL will host its fourth annual National Educator Conference focused on LGBT, questioning, intersex, and allied youth: Supporting Students, Saving Lives. And Hilton agreed to answer a few questions about why it's important.
The Advocate: What inspired you to join the national advisory council of the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership and to get involved in the Supporting Students, Saving Lives conference?
Perez Hilton: I have been involved with several organizations that help young people in the world of education, specifically devoting a lot of my time to supporting GLSEN and VH1's Save the Music Foundation. When I was informed of this conference, I instantly saw the need for it and instantly wanted to help in any way that I could.
Did you encounter harassment in school as a young person, and if so, do you believe CESCaL's annual conference could have made a difference?
I was bullied in school, but thankfully not to the point where I ever felt like taking my own life. And at that time I was probably more bullied just for being overweight. The conference is aimed at educating. Hopefully, they can take what they learn from there and apply it into their own schools and communities. I believe that it can be lifesaving.
Can you recount one of those experiences when you were bullied as a student?
I remember vividly instances where other classmates would pinch the fat on my back. Thankfully, I was able to find a supportive group and community to help make the experience better for me. I joined the drama club and a few extracurricular programs like that, which really went a long way for me.
What would a national educator conference focused on LGBT youth have meant for you as a young person?
It would have meant hopefully more openness and discussion in my very religious, all-boys school.
For more information about the conference, including a schedule, registration fees, scholarships, and partner hotels, visit LGBTQIA2013.org. Presenting sponsors include Southwest Airlines and AT&T.