What does PFLAG do?

Speaker Bureaus
The vast majority of PFLAG’s chapters run Speaker Bureaus that present to schools, community based organizations, businesses and corporations, and others seeking accurate information about homosexuality.

In Massachusetts, for example, PFLAG chapters run a “Parent and Family Member Outreach Project,” which has been funded by the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.  PFLAG members completed an average of 70 engagements each year with some audiences reaching 300 persons.

Safe Schools
PFLAG knows first-hand that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth are coming out at younger ages, and they often face severe harassment at school.  Because PFLAG includes many parents, our members have considerable influence in school debates and with school officials.  PFLAG works to mobilize parents, family members, friends and GLBT people to advocate for safer schools, to engage other youth and family advocates in this work, and to support students facing harassment.  PFLAG affiliates have worked on a range of activities, including advocating for GLBT inclusion in school nondiscrimination policies, training teachers and administrators, donating GLBT books to school libraries and assisting with Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs).

PFLAG continues to monitor and advocate for inclusive local, state and federal schools legislation, track legal decisions and work with local and national groups to ensure that PFLAG’s family voice is heard in important education debates.

In 2000, PFLAG launched a new national schools campaign “From Our House to the School House: A Recipe for Safe Schools.”  The campaign unites PFLAG affiliates across the country in assessing their school climate for GLBT students, building broad-based community coalitions, and developing a local action plan for safe schools.

Diversity and Inclusivity
As a predominantly white, middle class organization, PFLAG recognizes that our organizational priorities and models of work have not always been inclusive of or relevant to people of color, poor and low income people, people whose first language is not English, people with disabilities, to name a few.  We recognize that in order to truly realize our mission, we must work to create an inclusive organization and build coalitions with people of color, low-income people and others in our local communities and on the national level.

In late 1999, PFLAG worked with people of color activists to form the Families of Color Network, which works with people of color to address GLBT issues in the context of their African-American, Arab-American, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, Latino/a and Native communities.  In addition, PFLAG is forming a network of white activists interested in working to make the organization more diverse and inclusive.  The Field Program and Policy Department has developed several workshops on the issue for presentation at regional conferences and to chapters, as well as written materials.

Legal Rights and Social Justice
In its early years, providing family support was PFLAG’s primary function — and in many ways, it still is.  The very success of family support groups, however, convinced many PFLAG members that genuine support for their children required more than acceptance within the family.  All of our family members need to be safe, and to have adequate protections from discrimination.

PFLAG’s eventual success will be measured, in part, through our ability to reach mainstream America and engage them in the work to achieve full civil rights.  We have a unique role:

A voice for equal rights from heterosexual allies
PFLAG’s membership includes non-gay parents, families and friends as well as GLBT people working together for GLBT civil rights, uniting us all in a unique family voice.  As an organization with many heterosexual members, PFLAG engages elected officials and community leaders in a discussion about equal rights in a unique way.  By telling their stories, our heterosexual members are able to chart a path to understanding and to serve as a bridge between the straight and gay communities.

Organizational support
Our research shows that even non-gay people who are supportive of gay rights are often reluctant to speak up because they fear being labeled gay.  PFLAG provides organizational support for straight allies to speak up and engage in the discussion.

Faith Communities
Many religious traditions are struggling with how to become welcoming and affirming to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.  Some faith communities are very progressive in these matters and others are very resistant to changes that challenge long-held views about homo-sexuality and gender identity.  People come to PFLAG from all of these traditions and are often at the forefront of dialogues in their particular faith community to effect change.  PFLAG brings a critical, personal family voice to these often difficult and protracted processes, at the same time that we respect our organization’s commitment to being a secular organization not affiliated with any faith community.

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