How Change is Happening with the Safe Schools Program

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.”

We Want to Do Much More… But We Need Your Help

We are enormously proud of this program and we are bringing it to as many schools and students as we possibly can.

A Student in Inwood

My friend is gay but he didn’t like talking about it. He hid, and it was kind of hard on him. I learned from the Safe Schools Program not to be afraid of who you are. My classmates are more respectful now.”

— Christian,
Student in Inwood

We do not charge schools for the Safe Schools Program so that as many students as possible can access the program and its incredible speakers. Schools are dependent on this program to support their students, but they don’t have funds to allocate for this vital work. We rely primarily on donations. That is why we count on help from people like you.

Please donate to the Safe Schools Program today. Your contribution will help us do three things:

  1. Bring the program to more students. Virtually every school we work with invites us back each year to speak to their new students. However, in a system of 1.1 million students — the largest school system in the country by far — there are many schools we still need to reach.
  2. Recruit and train more volunteers. When our speakers tell their personal stories, the students are moved. They remember them. When we go back to a school for a repeat visit, older students we have spoken with in prior years excitedly greet us and reference our stories, like the boy who recently saw one of our speakers in the hall and said, “Hey David, I remember you. How you doin’? Glad you’re good with your mom.”
  3. Devote more full-time staff to the program. In order to accomplish these goals, we must dedicate more staff to growing the Safe Schools Program. Volunteer community speakers deliver our in-school programs, so we are incredibly efficient with our funds, but it takes full-time staff to do things like keeping the program growing to new schools, refining our successful methods so they keep helping schools where they need it most, expanding our program to encompass cultural and language backgrounds as diverse as our community, and always making sure the Safe Schools Program is furthering our goal to make every student feel safe and accepted.

Please come talk to our kids. We don’t know where to start.”

Teachers and principals tell us how they don’t know how to talk to their students about LGBT issues, how much they need our program, how it is the only one of its kind, and how much our stories resonate with their students.
 

A Student in Inwood

 

I teach high school in Queens. We have gay, lesbian, and transgender students, and all of them can feel so alone, trapped almost. When PFLAG came it meant a lot to our students. It made a huge difference as far as how the kids talk to each other… how they talk about the issues. When they hear personal stories it hits home. It’s been huge progress for our school.”

— Bibiana Parecki, Special Education Teacher

 

Help Us Bring This Valuable Program to More Young People

Please think of the life-changing work PFLAG NYC is doing and make a generous donation.

By making LGBT students feel safer in schools, we are helping them stay in school, find success, and have a promising future. Won’t you do your part to help us help them?

Click here to donate now.