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PFLAG Founder Jeanne Manford Dies at 92

Manford

Jeanne Manford, the founder of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1972, has died at the age of 92, the group reports.

RallyWrote Liz Owen on the occasion of Manford's 91st birthday last year:

Being gay was a crime, over half of the U.S. population deemed homosexuality morally wrong, vicious attacks on gay people were commonplace, and the idea of equality for gays and lesbians was a radical notion. But this didn’t stop Bronx, New York schoolteacher Jeanne Manford from ensuring that her gay son, Morty, received the same treatment as her straight daughter, Suzanne.

Following a brutal attack on his life at a rally, Manford stood alongside her son in a protest through the streets of Manhattan, carrying a sign that read “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.” Begged by observers to speak to other parents, she started support groups teaching parents to accept and support their LGBT loved ones and become, like her, brave advocates for equality. As demand steadily increased, Manford founded PFLAG, a national organization with a mission of support, education, and advocacy.

Writes PFLAG's Brooke Smith:

Jeanne was one of the fiercest fighters in the battle for acceptance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It is truly humbling to imagine in 1972 - just 40 years ago - a simple schoolteacher started this movement of family and ally support, without benefit of any of the technology that today makes a grassroots movement so easy to organize. No Internet. No cellphones. Just a deep love for her son and a sign reading “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.”

This simple and powerful message of love and acceptance from one person resonated so strongly it was heard by millions of people worldwide and led to the founding of PFLAG, an organization with more than 350 chapters across the U.S. and 200,000 members and supporters, and the creation of similar organizations across the globe.

Our thoughts go out to Manford's family and those close to her.

The family requests that any donations be made to the Jeanne Manford Legacy Fund to support the ongoing work of PFLAG National: 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 660, Washington, DC 20036.


Second Lady Addresses PFLAG Convention

131654733_BH006_PFLAGYesterday in Alexandria, VA, the Second Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, delivered the opening remarks at PFLAG's annual convention. Dr. Biden's a mother and teacher, and her remarks were richly informed by personal experience.

Speaking at the Westin Alexandria, Dr. Biden said:

... As a teacher and a mom, I know what Jeanne Manford knew: that there is a direct connection between acceptance and positive, healthy outcomes in every important area of life, including education, mental health, and physical health. So I’m particularly happy to join you all today not only as Second Lady, but as a mother and also as an educator.

As was mentioned, I’ve been a teacher for longer than I care to admit... I’ve taught as a reading specialist in public high schools and I’ve tutored at-risk teens at a psychiatric hospital in Delaware. I believe the greatest accomplishment of any teacher is not instructing students how to read or how to understand biology, but giving them the confidence to do the work. Instilling that belief in themselves is the key – not only for learning in the classroom, but for succeeding in life.

We all know that self-confidence can be a challenge for youth and adolescents – even under the best of circumstances. These are the years when all kids are trying to figure out who they are and who they hope to be. For children who are struggling with understanding their sexual orientation or gender identity, the teen years can be particularly challenging. And, of course, kids are not always kind to each other during these times, especially when one of them is different.

As an English teacher, I have my students write about themselves in their journals. Through those journal entries and my conversations with them, I have heard first-hand about this kind of pain and anxiety. And I have seen how this situation makes it almost impossible for students to concentrate on their school work. How can we expect kids who are taunted by their classmates to flourish in an academic environment?

We have all heard painful stories of bullying and harassment.  And we have read too many accounts of heartbreaking incidents where kids are driven to take their own lives rather than endure the taunting of their peers. No child should be subjected to that. And no parent should suffer that horrific loss.

Read Dr. Biden's full remarks here.

(Photo: Borrowed from PFLAG blog.)


A Mom's Conversation with Her Son About Growing Up Gay: VIDEO

Mom_son

It would be wonderful if gay children didn't feel the need to hide the fact that they are being bullied, or feelings about their own sexuality, and it would be fantastic if parents knew how to identify those things from the beginning, but it often doesn't happen, and I expect many folks will identify with this clip.

It is, however, quite beautiful that this mother and son are able to have this conversation years later.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "A Mom's Conversation with Her Son About Growing Up Gay: VIDEO" »


Watch: Australian PFLAG Mom Fronts Marriage Equality Battle

Argent

Shelley Argent is a PFLAG mom who is nominated for Senior Australian of the Year. She has been a very public face in Australia's campaign for marriage equality.

Watch 10 News report on this outspoken mom, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via good as you)

Continue reading "Watch: Australian PFLAG Mom Fronts Marriage Equality Battle" »


Gay Rights Activist And First National President Of PFLAG Dies

From Adele Starr's LA Times obituary:

Starr "Adele Starr, a Brentwood mother of five who overcame dismay at her son's homosexuality to become a leading voice for gay rights and marriage equality, has died. She was 90. In 1976, Starr founded the Los Angeles chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a gay rights and acceptance organization known then as Parent FLAG, now as PFLAG.

In 1979, she spoke on the steps of the U.S. Capitol at a march for gay rights — a seminal event often credited with uniting a then-nascent movement. Two years later, she became PFLAG's first national president; she served in that capacity until 1986 and remained a forceful advocate for civil rights and, in later years, for the legalization of same-sex marriage."

Current PFLAG national President Rabbi David M. Horowitz issued this statement: “May Adele’s family be comforted at this time of loss by the history she created and with the knowledge that the struggle for LGBT on a national scale began with her."


Watch: Mama Wu, Superhero Mom to Gays in China

China

CNN profiles Wu Youjian (aka 'Mama Wu'), who is the head of China's PFLAG chapter and campaigns for parents to accept their gay children. Wu couldn't type until she was 60 but now writes a blog read by thousands.

Watch the story of this amazing mom, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: Mama Wu, Superhero Mom to Gays in China" »


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