More Needed Than Ever: Supporting Families, Making Schools Safe

I just wanted to take the time to thank you and the other PFLAG NYC guests for coming all the way to South Brooklyn to speak to my kids. The kids were so enthralled and I know it meant a lot to them to hear from adults who shared some of their struggles and persisted. Some of the kids come from very conservative families, and it’s so important for them to understand that many adults love and support them for who they are.”

— Teacher & GSA Advisor - P.S. 207 Elizabeth G. Leary School, Brooklyn

In PFLAG NYC’s trainings with school staff around New York City, one of the most eye-opening moments comes when we share the results of a survey of high school students who were asked to name their “biggest problem in life.”

PFLAG NYC's Safe Schools Program at New Utrecht H.S.

PFLAG NYC’s Safe Schools Program now partners with many schools to provide LGBTQ educational programs for every incoming class. That’s how school culture is transformed. Here, Clark Hamel shares his story with an English class at New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Non-LGBTQ students answered with the things you might expect teenagers to worry about: grades & exams, college & career plans, and financial pressures related to college or job. But among LGBTQ students, the top five thing they mention have to do with coping with their identity: non-accepting families, school bullying, fear of being out & open, depression and loneliness. Fully 80% of the issues LGBTQ youth are concerned about are related to worries that come from simply being who they are.

That is why the letter from P.S. 207 about the PFLAG NYC visit there gets right to the heart of how our Safe Schools Program helps young people. Hearing real life stories from parents and from LGBTQ people can transform the way that they think about the possibilities for their future.

Every Facet of Their Lives

Our aim at PFLAG NYC is to help LGBTQ young people find acceptance and support in every aspect of their lives, starting with the two most important places they spend their time: family and school.

Our support programs for families have never been more vibrant, now with meetings taking place regularly in eight locations around the city, including the newest meeting launched this year, the TransFamilies Project at The Center. More than 1,000 people a year attend these meetings. Every parent who comes to a meeting for the first time, not sure what their child’s revelation is going to mean in their lives, leaves feeling better and more confident to stand by their kid. That’s the first step in helping LGBTQ youth thrive, because family acceptance is key.

Connecting Families & Schools

Speaking with Students at P.S. 207

Originally only offered in high schools, now more than half of Safe Schools Program presentations take place in middle school — grades 6, 7, and 8 — just the time when young people need help making sense of how they and their classmates are changing. Sarah Miller talks with kids at P.S. 207 in the very part of Brooklyn where Sarah grew up.

This year PFLAG NYC started bringing family support programs directly into schools by training the parent coordinators and family leadership teams of every school on how to work with families with LGBTQ kids. We’re keeping up a good pace and by the end of the year will have done training in more than 50% of school districts citywide. And we’re not letting up on our bringing Safe Schools Program educational presentations to students either — in the school year since September we’re 34% ahead of last year’s pace.

PFLAG NYC is transforming the world in which LGBTQ young people grow up. From families that embrace their kids when they come out, to schools that enable every student to feel safe and accepted for who they are, PFLAG NYC is making life better for LGBTQ young people in every place that’s important to them.

Help Us Reach More LGBTQ Young People and Their Families

Please help us continue this vital work by making a donation now to keep our programs expanding to reach every corner of NYC. Our kids are counting on you.

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