Thousands of students from across the Midwest will gather in Bloomington-Normal for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC). The regional conference, which will be hosted at Illinois State University from Feb. 13 to 15, includes workshops on topics that impact the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The theme for the Normal-based conference is “Narrating a new Normal,” which embodies using narration and telling personal stories to bring students to the LGBT social justice movement.

MBLGTACC will feature keynote speaker Laverne Cox from the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She is set to speak at the opening ceremony on Friday. She plays the groundbreaking role of Sophia Burset, an incarcerated African-American transgender woman. The first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show, her character was named one of the most influential fictional characters of 2013 by Time magazine.

“The fact that Ms. Cox has been incredibly successful and presents such a holistic and empowering message no matter where she goes is incredibly important for all people to hear,” said Illinois State student Robert Alberts, who is the director of the student led MBLGTACC committee.

The conference will also feature entertainment by Kit Yan from HBO’s Asian Aloud and a student drag show hosted by the famous Bianca Del Rio. Workshops on a wide array of issues impacting the LGBT community will also be a highlight throughout the conference.

Alberts is leading 20 of his peers and members of the Illinois State staff putting together the conference. The planning process for MBLGTACC began shortly after Alberts attended his first MBLGTACC as a freshman. Now as a senior, Roberts said, “After these years of planning and preparation we get to see the thousands of students come and take part in the conference. This conference changed my life the first time I attended, and now I get to watch it change the lives of first-time attenders.”

The conference has had the support from Illinois State leaders since its inception. “I am very proud of the amazing work done by the planning committee for the MBGLTACC conference,” said Dean of Students Art Munin, “I have seen firsthand the large number of hours and great amount of energy that they have dedicated to this endeavor. We all owe this group a debt of gratitude for their service to this conference and our Redbird community.”

The conference is still in need of volunteers. Those interested in volunteering with registration or other duties can visit the volunteer page on the MBLGTACC website and complete the online volunteer form.

For more information on the conference visit