Following an announcement last month that Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ policy and legal advocacy organizations are merging to form a comprehensive, statewide political and legal advocacy organization, FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland announced today that they’ll host a series of listening sessions across the state. These listening sessions will be an opportunity for community members to engage directly with organizational leaders around the issues that matter most to them, and help FreeState Legal / Equality Maryland shape its vision.

The organization today announced the first round of these meetings will take place in Columbia, Salisbury, Chestertown, and Frederick, with future events being organized in Baltimore, Westminster, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County. These events are designed to solicit feedback from the LGBTQ community on what issues should be prioritized by the combined organization, both in terms of substantive legal and policy issues, as well as which populations with intersecting identities most need barriers removed with the assistance of the newly formed organization.

The organization will use information learned in the listening sessions to influence a comprehensive strategic planning process, including rewriting the organization’s mission, vision, name, and brand. The new organizational identity will be unveiled at a celebration event that will take place this summer.

These listening sessions will be co-hosted with regional LGBTQ organizations including the Frederick Center, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, The Lower Shore Coalition LGBTQ Coalition, and PFLAG Chestertown.

On Tuesday, March 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. the Frederick Center will be hosting a listening session so that area residents can join this important conversation to help shape their strategic planning to best serve the priorities of our local communities. Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick (4880 Elmer Derr Road in Frederick) will be the location, and it is open to everyone.

The following events have been scheduled:

• February 9 – Owen Brown Interfaith Center (7246 Cradlerock Way, Columbia) 7:30 to 9 p.m.

• February 23 – Chesapeake College, Higher Education Center (1000 College Circle, Wyes Mill), room 115, 6 to 8 p.m.

• March 8 – Community Foundation (1324 Belmont Ave #401, Salisbury), 6 to 8 p.m.

• March 15 – Unitarian Universalist Church (4880 Elmer Derr Road, Frederick), 6 to 8 p.m.

More sessions will be announced in the coming weeks at Freestatelegal.org.