PFLAG NYC Addresses Ninth Grade Classes at UN International School

On November 30, 2009, ten speakers from the PFLAG NYC Safe Schools Program visited the United Nations International School (UNIS) and spoke with all five ninth-grade classes, or a total of 125 students. The visit was part of the school’s efforts to reduce bias, prejudice and name-calling, and create a respectful school environment for all students.

PFLAG NYC volunteers Claire Buffie and Kate Hathaway speak with 9th graders at UNISPFLAG NYC volunteers Claire Buffie and Kate Hathaway speak with 9th graders at UNIS

Each speaker told his or her personal story, either about a child or a sibling coming out to the family, or about being LGBT and what it was like coming out and what their school experiences were like.

The students, who come from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, were attentive and curious. Many asked questions such as, “What advice would you give a gay person about whether to come out to their family?” Victor G., an LGBT speaker, told the students that, “The first thing is to be sure you’ll be safe if you come out.” Johanna Antar, a parent of a gay son, advised people to attend PFLAG meetings and talk with others to get a sense of how and when to come out.

It was wonderful to visit UNIS… Rhona and Tom gave amazing presentations.”

Judy Accurso, PFLAG NYC Observer

A great experience

Dennis Lacey, the UNIS guidance counselor who arranged the visit, said it was “a great experience for the kids. This is so important. We’d like you to come back and speak to our upper grades.”

In addition to the ten speakers, several new volunteers to the Safe Schools Speakers Bureau attended as observers.

I was so taken with both Alice Wong and Aundaray Guess. They spoke eloquently and effectively and the students really seemed to take it all in. I was knocked out by the experience and look forward to other opportunities to join the effort.”

Carol Shuttleworth, PFLAG NYC Observer

Thank you to all who participated: Aundaray Guess, Marlene Shyer, Hana Roth Seavey, Myron Yolkut, Rhona Yolkut, Johanna Antar, Alice Wong, Kate Hathaway, Thomas Verni, Claire Buffie, Victor G., Judy Accurso, Suzy Lowinger, Lee Schwartz, Carol Shuttleworth, Diane Coughlin, and Suzanne Ramos. Special thanks to Vivian Ellner.

Johanna Antar, PFLAG NYC volunteer and mother of a gay son, talks with a class of 9th gradersJohanna Antar, PFLAG NYC volunteer and mother of a gay son, talks with a class of 9th graders

 

UNIS 9th graders pose with UNIS 9th graders pose with “Stay Close” Campaign posters along with PFLAG NYC volunteers Claire Buffie and Kate Hathaway