FUN HOME Pride Playbill

The Safe Schools Program of PFLAG NYC featured in an article in the New York Times today about an event where some 20 of our Safe Schools Program volunteer speakers got to swap stories with members of the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical, FUN HOME, and talk about how they connect with audiences. We billed it as a “Safe Schools Master Class with FUN HOME,” because our speakers left with a lot of insight and inspiration to take with them as they head into schools this fall.

Connection Started with Pride March

The partnership between PFLAG NYC and FUN HOME began with the NYC Pride March in June when more than 20 members of the cast marched with us. Wearing FUN HOME shirts in PFLAG gold and holding signs that read “Love Yourself” and “Be proud of your LGBTQ children,” many cast members took part in a Pride March for the very first time, and they were amazed at the crowd’s overwhelming response as PFLAG walked by. Read more »

Join us for a reading and conversation with authors Wesley Davidson and Jonathan Tobkes

 

_When Your Child Is Gay_ Book Cover

With Pride month in June comes a brand new book for parents of gay children. When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need to Know is being released at the beginning of the month and the authors will come to PFLAG NYC’s Upper West Side meeting on June 27 for a book reading followed by Q&A.

Wesley Davidson, a PFLAG mother and blogger at Straight Parent, Gay Kid, and Dr. Jonathan Tobkes, M.D., a psychiatrist who works with patients around LGBT issues, have joined forces to provide a road map so that families can navigate the sometimes rocky, emotional terrain when a child comes out.

Combining real-life stories of relationships of gay children and their parents told by Ms. Davidson with insights from Dr. Tobkes’ professional practice, the book provides a wealth of useful advice for avoiding heart ache and building strong relationships. Read more »

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. 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 »

Be a Safe Schools Volunteer!

The Safe Schools Program is always looking for dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference in the community, by teaching kids that it is okay to be exactly who they are. We need parents and family members of LGBT people who want to share their stories about how and why they accept their LGBT loved ones. We also want LGBT speakers who are willing to speak about a part of their own journey of self-acceptance, so that students in NYC can see that no matter how they identify, we all just want to be loved and respected. Many of the parents in the program share the same sentiment: “If only there was a program like this in effect when my child was in school.”

What We Look For in a
Safe Schools Volunteer Speaker

  • LGBT people or Parents, friends and family members of LGBT people
  • Those with a passion to help young people grow up as supported as possible
  • Good listening skills
  • A desire to share their experiences to help students understand a positive perspective of the LGBT community

The Safe Schools Program is built on real authentic stories from different people in the community that the students can relate to. When we visit a school from the previous years, the students remember our volunteers and their stories as well. Last year we spoke to over 5,000 students in 170 classroom visits in schools all over New York City.

The Stories

  • A mother of a gay son from the Bronx talks about how her son overcame his fear to come out when he was 14 years old. She describes how he dealt with bullies in his neighborhood, and how he became a successful dance despite all of the obstacles he faced. “My son Henry grew up being taunted in public school. I didn’t know if there was anything I could do about it until I found PFLAG. Now I fight to make sure other children find the same support.”
  • A young trans man tells students about his first time feeling truly comfortable in his own skin during a talent show where he dressed up as a drag king. That moment in his life lead to him coming to terms with his true gender identity.
  • A mother from Jersey City tells the story of her youngest son and his boyfriend being the first openly gay couple to go to his high school prom. “When Dylan and his date stepped on to the red carpet, looking drop dead gorgeous in their tuxedos, all of the parents applauded.”