Thank you. Thank you. Your Safe Schools speakers made a
huge difference in our school. The name-calling has all but stopped.”

That’s what one school counselor told us about our Safe Schools Program. Give us a few minutes and we’ll tell you why.

Thursday, 8:45 a.m., South Bronx - Students are settling down in their middle school classroom. The teacher asks Justin to settle down. He stops talking to Angela. Tony puts down his pen. In the back of the room, Brianna looks up from her reading. The room becomes still.

Charlie Trotman

As a Safe Schools speaker, I go back to the middle school that I attended. When I learned there what ‘lesbian’ meant, I was groping in the dark. It was scary and I went through some tough times. It’s barely ten years later, but PFLAG has made such a difference at that school.”

— Charlie Trotman

In this 8th grade classroom, 29 students focus on the Safe Schools speaker — a mom telling the story of her daughter’s coming out. She talks about her feelings, her family’s reaction, and how things are today.

Next up… a transgender man talks about coming to understand and accept himself. He talks about coming out to his family and the struggles of his mom. He closes by telling the students about finding a job and career he loves.

When the speakers are finished, Tony raises his hand and shares with the class that his lesbian aunt always takes him out to eat on his birthday. Other students tell stories of LGBT family members — stories they have never shared before. Brianna asks about the best way for someone to come out to their parents.

A Typical Safe Schools Visit

That is a typical class with the Safe Schools Program of PFLAG NYC. We reach thousands of students across the city with similar visits every year. We bring new information and new perspectives about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families. We help LGBT kids feel supported and safe and get straight kids to think about LGBT people with new knowledge and understanding.

Again and again, we hear what an English teacher from a Brooklyn high school told us, “You changed the climate in our school.” Read more »

PFLAG NYC is proud that Judy Sennesh, founder and leader of our TransParents Project, will receive an award from Houses on the Moon Theater Company at their annual benefit, Amplify 2016.

Amplify 2016 Read more »

Join us at a Safe Schools Speaker Training Program in January 2016

Denise Atherley Speaks with Students at the High School for Law and Public ServiceDenise Atherley Speaks with Students at the High School for Law and Public Service

Personal stories are the most effective tool that the Safe Schools Program uses to open students’ minds and enlist them in making their schools welcoming and supportive for all. Safe Schools’ community volunteers are the essential part of the presentations we use in hundreds of classrooms every year.

In January, PFLAG NYC will hold two Speaker Training Workshops to teach volunteers how to share their story for the Safe Schools Program. The workshops will help both new and experienced volunteers shape a personal story to fit a Safe Schools presentation. In the workshops, you will:

  • Identify personal stories that will have impact with students
  • Learn how to tell your story and leave behind a lasting message
  • Develop skills to make your story relatable to different audiences
  • Learn how to handle questions from students about LGBT issues
  • And much, much more!

The training will be an enjoyable and productive few hours with other passionate PFLAG NYC volunteers. By the end, you’ll feel ready and confident to speak at a Safe Schools Program event. Read more »

On Tuesday, November 3, PFLAG NYC was proud to take part in the New York City Department of Education’s first Transgender Youth Conference for more than 300 school counselors and other staff.

Judy Sennesh Speaks with Counselors at the Transgender Youth Conference

A team of presenters from the Safe Schools Program led two workshops on supporting families and fostering family acceptance for transgender youth with more than 80 attendees. Judy Sennesh, the leader of the TransParents Project, PFLAG NYC’s support group for families with transgender children, spoke with the counselors about the most common fears of parents when their child expresses gender in non-traditional ways or is transgender. Some common feelings are difficulty understanding how one doesn’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, and fear that their child will not be accepted or bullied by their peers.

Using family stories to increase understanding of LGBT issues is a guiding idea of our Safe Schools Program, so Judy also talked about her own experience with a trans son who came out in college. Amy Fabrikant movingly described her own experiences with the daily challenges faced by trans students in elementary school. Many such stories form the background to the children’s book she wrote, When Kayla was Kyle, that helps younger kids understand gender identity. Read more »