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.
- 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.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Safe Schools Program work?
- The Safe Schools Program office schedules the visits with middle and high schools in nearly every borough in NYC.
- Volunteers sign up to speak at the schools that are convenient for them to commute to.
- Once in the classroom, one of the volunteer speakers with introduce PFLAG, explaining what it means and what we do in the the Safe Schools Program.
- We explain general terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and “coming out.”
- 2-3 volunteers (usually one parent, and one LGBT person) speak to a classroom of up to 30 students and share their stories. (Smaller classroom settings prove to be more effective than speaking to large assemblies.)
How often are volunteers needed?
The Safe Schools Program has events throughout the year. Our volunteer speakers go to as many as their schedule allows them to. Some can only attend one or two visits during a school year, and others go more frequently. Safe Schools visits range from 3-5 hours of time, and take place in public schools throughout New York City.
One 7th grade student in Manhattan wrote a letter to one of our speakers:
Our volunteer speakers would agree that being in the classroom and being able to directly affect change is truly a rewarding experience.