Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Headlines in the Heartland

I wanted to update all of you on a terrific week for PFLAG, and our chapters, in local and national media. From advocating for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to calling out a local school district after officials shut down a production of The Laramie Project, PFLAG spokespeople are making headlines in the heartland and shining a national spotlight on the great work we’re doing every day.

On Tuesday morning, USA Today reported on the case of Debra Taylor, a law and ethics teacher at a Grandfield, Oklahoma high school who was suspended, and later resigned, after teaching her class The Laramie Project, about the murder of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard. After Taylor was nearly a month into her study of the critically acclaimed play – and despite strong community support from parents and teachers – she was abruptly ordered to stop her lesson and cancel the project.

In response, PFLAG’s Norman, Oklahoma chapter – with the help of local PFLAGers Kay Holladay, Kay Ham and Nancy McDonald – sent the Grandfield school board a powerful statement, calling on them to resume teaching The Laramie Project. This morning, the nation’s most read newspaper noted that, "The Norman, Okla., chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) urged administrators to allow The Laramie Project as a way ‘to create a culture where everyone is welcomed, embraced and valued.'"

We couldn’t be more proud of our chapter for their bold action, and for putting this important story on the national radar.

And, we’re also proud of retired Air Force Colonel – and PFLAG dad – Dan Tepfer, from our Dayton, Ohio chapter. Dan, who also serves on PFLAG’s national board of directors, was in Washington on Friday to stand before the United States Capitol and call on Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On Friday morning, Dan sat down with Kerry Eleveld, of The Advocate, for an in-person interview about his work to end the military’s ban on gay troops and his passion for PFLAG. And on Sunday morning, he was front-and-center in The Dayton Daily News, where columnist Mary McCarty noted that Dan is so committed to PFLAG “that his children refer to Tepfer and his wife Nancy as ‘Mr. and Mrs. PFLAG.’”

“Tepfer delivered an impassioned speech on the west lawn of the Capitol,” McCarty noted, adding that the demise of the military’s ban “would make Mr. PFLAG very happy.”

On Sunday, PFLAG’s Regional Director for the Pacific Northwest, Kathy Reim, was also profiled in her hometown paper, The Skagit Daily Herald, and spoke about her own passion for helping families and ending prejudice. Calling Reim “a champion for diversity,” the paper notes that she “is well-known in Skagit County for her efforts to promote tolerance and fight discrimination.”

All of us at PFLAG are enormously proud of the amazing work our chapters are doing – from Washington State to Washington, D.C., and everywhere in-between. Their dedication to moving equality forward inspires us all and reminds us of the progress we’re making, in big ways and small, in communities across our country.

Thank you to all of our PFLAG members, chapters and allies who make that work possible.


P.S.: PFLAG National’s communications staff helps keep our good work in the headlines, and the media’s attention focused on the efforts of our allies in the field. If you would like to support our efforts to ensure our chapters continue to be highlighted in national and local media – like USA Today and The Dayton Daily News ­– please consider making a tax-deductible gift online. Your contribution will be put to immediate use and assist in our efforts to show the entire country the terrific work PFLAGers are doing.

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