Monday, April 25, 2011

Baltimore County Vigil Planned Tonight to Condemn Violence

At 7 pm tonight, PFLAG will join hundreds of Maryland trans-activists and allies to condemn the brutal beating of Chrissy Lee Polis at the McDonald’s restaurant where the event occurred (6315 Kenwood Avenue, Rosedale, MD). Last week this tragic was caught on video sparking outrage among those who plan to gather this evening and condemn this unjust assault on the basic rights of transgender people.

According to a recent study conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project, transgender Marylanders experience poverty (making under $10,000 per year) at nearly three times the national average; 12 percent reported experiencing homelessness; 17 percent said they were denied a home/apartment due to being transgender; and 22 percent reported having to find temporary spaces to stay in an attempt to avoid homelessness. The survey also reports that 8 percent have suffered physical assault, and 25 percent of those assaults took place in hotels or restaurants. This study points to the necessity of passing legislation that will protect transgender citizens in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.

In addition to working to pass inclusive legal protections for the most vulnerable transgender Marylanders, we at PFLAG must continue to dismantle the fears and prejudices of our society by continuing to support those coping with hostile communities, along with enlightening an ill-informed public about the very real and pervasive violence far too many trans people endure on a daily basis.

If you live in or around Baltimore County, please join us this evening to rally on behalf of Chrissy Lee Polis and other trans folks who have experienced this type of unjust violence. If you want to learn more about how to better support trans people and their allies within your chapter, please click here to check out our resources page.

Friday, April 22, 2011

PFLAG National Awards Diversity Grants to Local Chapters

PFLAG National is proud to announce the 2011-2012 Diversity Outreach Grant recipients. PFLAG National awarded a total of $5,000 to eight local chapters across the country for their innovative diversity projects ranging from collaborations with local health departments to connection building projects with local faith communities.

This year’s recipients are:

$1,000 Award

PFLAG Modesto - California

PFLAG Greater Boston - Massachusetts

PFLAG Greensboro - North Carolina

PFLAG Columbia-Howard County - Maryland

$250 Award

PFLAG Rocky Mount - North Carolina

PFLAG Taos - New Mexico

PFLAG Northern IL Council - Illinois

PFLAG San Diego-Mi Familia (PFLAG en Espanol)- California

Click here to for a complete description of our 2011-2012 diversity projects. These critical endeavors empower our leaders to build even stronger and more welcoming chapters for all of our community members invested in PFLAG’s transformative support, education and advocacy work.

And thanks to these outstanding local chapters – and all the local PFLAG chapters across the United States - for their continued work in making PFLAG a powerhouse of diverse activism and support.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

PFLAG National Welcomes Betty DeGeneres as the Keynote Speaker at the 2011 Convention!


We are honored and excited to announce that
Betty DeGeneres - the quintessential PFLAG Mom - will be our keynote speaker at the 2011 PFLAG National Convention, being held in Washington D.C. November 3-6, 2011.

We had the good fortune of hearing Betty speak last night at the PFLAG Los Angeles monthly meeting in Westwood, and she was, as expected, a hit! The room was packed with current members and many new attendees, all of whom listened intently as Betty discussed her prominent position in the movement as the proud mom of a (famous) lesbian daughter.

Ellen's coming out process was, as we know, a very public one. And
as Ellen's mother, Betty herself then took on a very public role as a strong supporter of her daughter and as an ally to the entire community. She values the opportunity she has been given to speak out on behalf of all parents of LGBT people, and works tirelessly in support of the PFLAG mission of support, education, and advocacy.

Don't miss this opportunity to hear Betty DeGeneres speak - she is eloquent, informative, funny and a strong, authentic woman with a
powerful message to share, one of love...and equality.



PFLAG National Joins Rally for Bully Free DC

Today at noon, District of Columbia youth, teachers, families, and activists will gather with lawmakers at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, to celebrate the reintroduction of the Bullying and Prevention Act of 2011 (B19-85) and rally for a bully free DC. This critical bill would require DC Public Schools and other District agencies that work with youth to pass comprehensive anti-bullying policies that will empower educators and administrators to effectively stop, fix and prevent the problems of bullying and harassment.

Tragically, our nation's schools face longstanding challenges in preventing and effectively responding to instances of bullying and harassment. The U.S. Department of Education has noted this problem and recognized that bullying and harassment “affects nearly one in every three American school children in grades six through ten.” Whether motivated because of a student’s real or perceived race, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic, bullying and harassment interferes with a student's ability to learn. Sadly, we know all too well how this behavior impacts our LGBT loved ones. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students nationwide report that they have been harassed in the past year due to their sexual orientation or gender identity alone.

PFLAG remains committed to promoting the health and well-being of LGBT school community family members and friends. That is why we plan to rally for a bully free DC and urge the Council to swiftly pass B19-85 into law to help prevent bullying and harassment, building safer schools for all students today!
To learn more about our DC chapter’s safe schools work, please click here to visit their website.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

KPMG Ranked #1 in Diversity Inc’s Best Places for LBGT Employees (and Allies!)

Today's post is from PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby:

We’re so proud of this week’s announcement by DiversityInc about KPMG. PFLAG National has been working closely with many corporations to help them strengthen their capacity to invite, educate and engage their straight associates to become allies in the workplace. Who better than PFLAG to lead this work given that PFLAG has spent the last 37 years working with tens of thousands of straight parents, family members and friends, together with LGBT people, to create healthier families and stronger communities.

So it is with great pride that we see KPMG awarded with Diversity Inc’s top spot of best places for LGBT people to work! PFLAG National, through our Straight for Equality program, has worked closely with KPMG to help them create culture and climate change across their company. KPMG has been completely committed to engaging more straight people to become allies and champions through their Pride@KPMG employee resource group. They have made tremendous progress over the last three years, and their selection by
DiversityInc is not a surprise to PFLAG National.

Click here to read the DiversityInc. announcement, which includes a reference to PFLAG’s work with KPMG.

Congratulations to the extraordinary leadership of KPMG, to its dynamic LGBT associates and its straight allies. We could not be more proud of your success!

Monday, April 18, 2011

PFLAG Philadelphia featured on the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Blog

SLDNs Legal Director Aaron Tax attended PFLAG Philadelphia’s meeting the best possible way…with his parents! Aaron spoke about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and in typical PFLAG fashion was moved by the stories that he heard from others.

Hearing parent stories and the differences between coming out today and in the past is a great reminder to us all of how far we have come. Aaron observes that with changing attitudes the time seems right for the repeal to take effect. Click here to read Aaron’s blog post about his visit and his impressions.

In addition to their incredible work providing support and in the community, PFLAG Philadelphia will also be hosting the PFLAG North Atlantic Regional Conference on April 30. Over 40 PFLAGers from NY, PA, NJ, DE, MD and DC will be in attendance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reframing the conversation around LGBT Equality...

Today, PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby weighs in on how simple use of language can impact the important work of PFLAG…

Thanks to Sue Null, formerly of PFLAG Houston, now based out of North Carolina, I had an opportunity to read a very disturbing article reflecting the anti-gay establishment’s attempt to reframe the language we use in our work for equality.

Ryan Sorba, chairman of the Young Conservatives of California, spoke at The Awakening conference in Virginia. There he discussed the need to change the terms by which the anti-LGBT movement refers to LGBT people. Sorba proposed alternatives to the word “gay,” and by a unanimous show of hands of the audience, the terms “same-sex attraction,” “same-sex intercourse,” “sodomy” and “unnatural vice” were deemed more appropriate to the cause. In addition, Sorba also suggested that LGBT people should be referred to as “anti-Christian.”

Self-described “ex-gay” Greg Quinlan, formerly of the Human Rights Campaign, and a founder of PFOX: Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays used his appearance at this conference to state, among other things, that “Homosexuality is the greatest threat to the criminalization of Christianity… .”

The criminalization of Christianity? Unnatural vice? This attempt to reframe the discussion around equality for all people is nothing less than shameful. And the use of faith-based rhetoric to do it is an affront to people of ALL faiths. To be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is not mutually exclusive with being a person of faith. One might argue, in fact, that it takes a great deal of faith to deal with the constant barrage of accusations, hurtful commentary, and outright condemnation from self-proclaimed “true Christians.”

Now is a good time for all of us who care about LGBT equality to reframe the conversation by talking more about faith, by talking more about our families, by talking more about the impact these outright lies have on us, our loved ones, our families and on the LGBT and ally community as a whole.

How will YOU reframe this conversation in your daily work of moving equality forward?

Please share your stories in the comment section below; we’d really like to hear from you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

3,042 miles and counting! $913 left to raise.

I noticed this weekend, while changing the battery for my bike computer, that my odometer read 3,042.

Somehow, quite uneventfully, I had passed the 3,000 mile mark on my bike without realizing it. I started riding last year on an older bike and bought this one last summer. At the time I had no idea how far I was to go or to where I’d be going.

I certainly didn’t realize that it would be a journey so challenging and personally rewarding when it began less than a year ago with a short trip to Dreher Island state park in my home state of South Carolina.

Now, just weeks away from riding to Los Angeles from San Francisco to take a stand against HIV/AIDS, I’m overwhelmed and challenged.

Thanks to the unfailing support of my family, my friends and the PFLAG family, I’ve made a lot of progress ($2,087) toward the $3,000 mark as well, but I need to bring match those miles with dollars to be able to ride for Team PFLAG in June.

I have to raise at least $3,000 and I can’t fail. This cause is too important.

So friends and PFLAG family, I need your support to make the home stretch. Donate today at www.tofighthiv.org/goto/david.manuel.

Thanks again for your support!

David

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Author Donates 10% OF Profits of Newest Novel to PFLAG New Orleans

While finishing his newest novel last fall, “A Time Before Us” author Michael Holloway Perronne was saddened by the news of five gay youth suicides in the span of three weeks.

“After so many years of political and social progress it saddens me that our gay youth still feel alone and helpless," Perronne says. "Coming out is never an easy process, and I believe the GLBT community should continue to fight the negative messages from the public at large, the media, and sadly, often our own political system that impact our young people.”


In response, Perronne will donate 10% of the profits in 2011 of his newest novel to PFLAG New Orleans, one of the oldest organizations in New Orleans serving the LGBT Community. “I was lucky to have the support of friends and family when I came out. But I was also fortunate to have been part of an organization like PFLAG New Orleans that not only gave me a college scholarship but has been supportive of my writing these past years. My donation is my small way of giving back and helping today’s youth and the New Orleans PFLAG chapter,” says Perronne.


In addition to its anti-bullying efforts, by testifying before the state legislature in Baton Rouge, and working towards the Safe-Schools Initiative, PFLAG New Orleans’s Scholarship Program is a special source of pride. “Our organization has been giving scholarships to GLBT students for 21 years now and has awarded over $500,000 to 450 applicants. We try to keep in touch with our past recipients and are very especially proud of a 1997 recipient, Michael Holloway Perronne. We hope all of our recipients are allowed the opportunity to fulfill their dreams; just as Michael has successfully been able to follow his,” says PFLAG New Orleans Board member Randy Trahan.


PFLAG New Orleans will be hosting a special booksigning of Perronne’s new novel, “ A Time Before Us,” at FAB in New Orleans on Wednesday; June 29, 2011 at 7:00 PM. For more information on the bookstore, visit http://www.fabonfrenchmen.com/.


Michael Holloway Perronne is a writer living in Los Angeles. He has a BA from the University of Southern Mississippi and a MFA from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans. “A Time Before Us” is his fifth book. For more information on Perronne, please visit his website at http://www.michaelhperronne.com/.


PFLAG New Orleans is one of the oldest organizations in New Orleans serving the LGBT Community, promoting the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill- informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. For more information, visit http://pflagno.org/.

PFLAG National Thanks HHS Secretary Sebelius For Moving Equality Forward!

On Friday, April 1st, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a number of steps it was recommending to the President to improve the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. The agency said it was confident of the President’s support for the initiatives.

The recommendations include policies that prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for HHS programs and employees, increase the number of federally-funded health surveys that collect sexual orientation and gender identity data, and encourage health profession training programs to include LGBT cultural competency curricula.

HHS will take additional steps, integrating an even stronger component focusing on LGBT youth in all anti-bullying initiatives, reducing the barriers encountered by prospective and current foster and adoptive parents who are LGBT, and requiring all organizations serving runaway and homeless youth to be equipped to serve LGBT youth. These commitments are major advocacy wins that support PFLAG’s ongoing efforts to improve the health and well-being for LGBT individuals and their families, at the local, state and national level.

“We applaud Secretary Sebelius for taking steps to end discrimination against so many of our LGBT loved ones and their families,” said PFLAG National president, Rabbi David M. Horowitz. “Her leadership in responding to the needs of LGBT people in federally supported health programs will certainly lead to fostering stronger families for all. We at PFLAG National look forward to continuing our work with this administration to respond to the health-related needs of all Americans.”

The HHS announcement was in response to an April 2010 memorandum from the President that not only directed HHS to put out rules prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in hospital visitation, but also asked HHS to explore additional steps the agency could take to improve the lives of LGBT communities. The final hospital visitation rules were announced in November and took effect in January.

For complete details on all of the department’s recommended actions, click here to visit the HHS website.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Report Urges US government to Collect Health Data on LGBT People

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences released a report that calls for an increased effort in including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in health studies to better understand the health conditions that effect the community. According to the report, LGBT people are more visible in society, yet little research has been conducted to understand the health needs of the community.

The Department of Health and Human Services is also publicizing their intentions for increasing services to the LGBT community. They released a statement saying, “For too long, LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve. That is now changing. HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs. Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.”

The New York Times reports that the US "government should systematically collect demographic data" on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and should "conduct biomedical research to understand why they are more likely to have certain chronic conditions, the National Academy of Sciences said Thursday." In fact, "in a report requested by the National Institutes of Health, the academy proposed an ambitious research agenda to investigate the prevalence and causes of obesity, depression, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions among gay people."

The Associated Press reported, "Stigma often keeps lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from seeking health care -- and when they do, there's little research to guide doctors in their treatment, the Institute of Medicine reported Thursday." For that reason, "researchers should start asking people about their sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they routinely ask about race and ethnicity, in all government-funded health studies, the panel concluded."

According to the CNN "The Chart" blog, "Judith Bradford, PhD, a member of the committee who wrote the report, says the study is extremely important because it provides a picture of how little information is out there and shines a light on how stigma and discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity can impact health in these communities."

PFLAG Lubbock Receives $1,400 from Texas Tech Drag Show

On Thursday night the Texas Tech University Residence Halls Association and the Texas Tech Gay-Straight Alliance hosted the Texas Tech 2nd Annual Drag Show, with all proceeds going to PFLAG Lubbock. The event was such a success that the chapter ended up with $1,400 in scholarship money for their Lubbock Lola Marie Drew Scholarship Fund!

At last year's event an ally named "Lady Espoir" performed. Here's what he had to say about his experience: "It was a lot of fun! I had never dressed in drag before and certainly never performed in drag. I was so incredibly nervous up until the very moment I went out on stage. This sense of “there’s nothing I can I do to get out of this now so I might as well give the best damn performance I can” took over me. Preparing for the show was a very unique experience! My friend, Jana, had a GRAND time helping me pick out shoes, a dress, a wig, breasts, make up….for three weeks last year I was the gay friend she’s always wanted. It was a learning experience as well. I had always thought I was comfortable with my masculinity. I’m a huge supporter of Transgender equality. However, I was so nervous about shopping for a dress. I constantly thought about what people might think if they saw me shopping for a dress and women’s shoes. I was so mad at myself for feeling that way. It went against everything I believe in (equality, Transgendered rights, tearing down gender roles). I made it to the night of the performance though. In my black high heels and little red dress; performing to “Let’s Talk About Sex” I strutted my stuff up and down that stage collecting donations for people affected by HIV/AIDS in our community. I’m so happy I had this experience. I encourage everyone to go see this performance and help raise money for this amazing cause. If you ever have a chance to go outside of your comfort zone, I hope you take it…it will change you forever."

To see photos from Thursday's event, click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

House DADT Oversight Hearing Going On Now!

Today at 9:30 a.m. EST, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee began the first oversight hearing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal implementation. Testifying before the subcommittee is Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Dr. Clifford Stanley, who co-chairs the DADT Repeal Implementation Team (RIT). He is joined by Vice Admiral William Gortney, Director of the Joint Staff. Chaired by repeal opponent Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), the Military Personnel Subcommittee also comprises a number of members who have voted for repeal, such as Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA), Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-ME), and Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA).

This hearing represents an update from these military leaders on how the Department of Defense is preparing for repeal, including the current training efforts in each of the services. Each branch is currently undergoing the third step of training, which targets the bulk of the force, and this training has progressed as a non-event.

But repeal opponents will stop at nothing to slow down the repeal process. Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness has already riled up the opposition, saying, "Our goal is to convince members of Congress that they must intervene with well-informed questions and an appropriate statement to the Administration summarized in three words: 'Not so fast!'"

The service men and women harmed by this discriminatory law - a number of whom will be seated in the hearing room - know better. They know we must keep moving forward to finally get this law off the books. In order to advocate for a timely repeal, PFLAG National is actively pushing back on the opposition, advocating for LGBT service members. To learn more, please click here to visit the Democrats' House Armed Services Committee website.