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US: White House hosts first summit on LGBT technological innovation

Ashley Chhibber July 9, 2014

The White House has this week hosted its first LGBT Innovation Summit, to bring together cutting-edge technological development with gay rights activism.

Around 200 entrepreneurs and technology specialists attended the summit, the first of its kind held in the White House. Issues discussed included poverty, workplace discrimination and triumphing through adversity.

Following the official welcome, the summit kicked off with an armchair conversation with Megan Smith, the lesbian vice president of Google[x], a facility dedicated to major technological advancements such as the self-driving car and Google Glass.

The event also included a panel discussion on the “challenges and opportunities facing LGBT communities”, featuring representatives from the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among others.

Attendees were given time for brief ‘elevator pitches’, to showcase their work and ideas or ask for help or resources. The four-hour programme was followed by a networking reception.

Thomas McAfee, co-founder and president of gay social network app distinc.tt, posted on Facebook about the event. He wrote: “To have the White House hold a summit on LGBT innovation and technology is truly remarkable.

“Today we came together as a community to address our challenges and work with the White House on how technology can be used to end discrimination, as well as the discrimination that members of our community face in the tech sector.”

He added: “I’m more excited about what I’m working on than ever before.”

Other responses to the event from speakers and attendees were also hugely positive:

Leanne Pittford, of Lesbians Who Tech, tweeted a Vine of the event:

It was particularly praised for its inclusivity, and particularly the presence of trans women of colour who are otherwise often underrepresented:

A Wall Street Journal blog covering the event reports it was held ‘off-the-record’. The White House declined to explain why this might be.

More: innovation, tech, US, White House

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