Cultivating Respect: A New PFLAG Initiative for Safe Schools

Dear PFLAG Family & Friends,

As almost any PFLAG parent can tell you, school can be a challenging experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Too many of our nation’s children go to school every day, fearing for their own safety and unable to learn. Many LGBT students report hearing constant, almost daily, anti-gay harassment. And many parents tell us they just don’t know the best way to get involved in their local schools or to educate the educators about why curbing anti-LGBT animus is so critically important. 

Today, all that changes.

Earlier this morning, PFLAG launched Cultivating Respect, our new safe schools program. In the coming months, we will be training local PFLAG supporters to become involved in their schools, and work to make classrooms, hallways, locker rooms and campuses safer for every child. This new venture, which builds upon years of prior work that PFLAG has done in schools across the country, takes our advocacy on behalf of young people to a whole new level. Consider, for example, that with Cultivating Respect PFLAG will:

    * Conduct intensive, all-day training sessions across the country to empower local allies to take an active role in making their schools safer;

    * Distribute thousands of copies of The Top Ten Ways to Make Schools Safer for All Students, our guide to beginning safe schools work at the local level;

    * Identify, train and certify local parents and allies to build relationships and work with their local school adminstrators; and

    * Develop a new series of training modules — addressing issues such as gender identity and expression — over the coming years to grow and constantly improve on our work in schools.

The PFLAG program is also designed to counter harmful, anti-gay campaigns by conservative advocacy groups, including attempts to infiltrate libraries with anti-gay literature and information on so-called “reparative therapy” practices, which have been condemned by medical experts. Anti-family advocates are pushing an extreme, anti-gay agenda that seeks to mislead adults and ultimately undermine the well-being of the countless LGBT young people who deserve a healthy learning environment, too. This new program asks those responsible for the well-being of our children to listen, think, act and be respectful of every member of our families. 

We hope you will join us in making this groundbreaking new program a success in your community. We’re offering 50 free copies of The Top Ten Ways to Make Schools Safer for All Students available to chapters whose membership dues are current . . . and we’ll be contacting some local PFLAG chapters in the coming months as we select cities and towns for unveiling Cultivating Respect. 

If you want to become part of the Cultivating Respect program, please talk to your chapter leader about how you can get involved. And if you’re a chapter leader and want more information on this exciting new program, contact Suzanne Greenfield, our Safe Schools Coordinator, at sgreenfield@pflag.org. (To obtain your free copies of our new safe schools guide, email Erin Williams atewilliams@pflag.org.) 

For more information on how the program will be rolled out and implemented, read Suzanne Greenfield’s blog entry, here. And to download a .pdf copy of the new guide, visit PFLAG online here. 

Hostile classrooms and campuses impact every member of the school community. From LGBT students, to those perceived to be, and even young people who are denied the opportunity to learn because of the distractions presented by anti-gay behavior, the consequences of not dealing with these issues reach far and wide. 

Now, at last, parents have the tools they need to work directly with their local leaders to stand up for every young person, including those who are LGBT or are impacted by these behaviors. It’s just one more of the amazing initiatives the PFLAG family is spearheading to make our schools, communities and country a safer, more welcoming place to be. 

Sincerely,

Jody M. Huckaby

PFLAG National Executive Director

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