LGBTQIA+ Family Advocacy and Support

Special thanks to Kids In Crisis leader Polly O’Brien Morrow for her article in the Stamford Advocate on LGBTQIA+ Family Advocacy and Support.

Click here to read the article in the Stamford Advocate.

As the parent of two young adults who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, I have made it a mission to learn about and understand my children’s experiences and to support their journeys and those of others who are members of this too-often-marginalized group. I am grateful to live in Connecticut (a state that is very supportive of this vulnerable population) and to work for a company (Pitney Bowes) that values diversity and inclusion and knows how important it is for all of our colleagues to be able to bring their fullest selves to their work and to feel a sense of belonging.


Yet I am saddened to know that there are people in my region and in my country who still seek to oppress and erase the LGBTQIA+ community through book bans and efforts to defame or protest pride-related activities and events.


To support my children, my husband and I found programs that helped them understand that they are not alone. Lighthouse is a program that surrounds LGBTQIA+ young people with positive support and role models. It was founded by Joe Belisle in Stamford around 11 years ago and is now a program of Kids in Crisis with weekly youth groups offered in multiple towns across Fairfield County. Triangle Community Center in Norwalk provides social programs, therapeutic resources, and other supports for members of the LGBTQIA+ community of all ages.


And our Stamford community benefits from the support of a Stamford Public Schools Office of Family and Community Engagement LGBTQIA+ and a Stamford/Norwalk regional LGBTQIA+ Community Health initiative supported by the Department of Health & Human Services, as well as tremendous support through Mayor Caroline Simmons and Carmen Hughes, the city’s first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.


To help make a difference, I got involved in Stamford Pride, a nonprofit organization with a mission to become a model of support, advocacy, and inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies in our region. And because meeting with other parents is tremendously important, I helped form the Stamford Pride Family Alliance, which recently became a chapter of PFLAG National. Founded in 1973, PFLAG is the first and largest organization dedicated to LGBTQIA+ Family Advocacy and Support for people and their families. We seek to create a caring, just, and affirming world for members of the community and those who love them.


I was very excited to have the opportunity to attend the 2023 PFLAG National Convention in Washington, D.C., last month.  It was such an incredible experience. Major themes of this year’s convention were about the harms of book bans (with inspirational comments from First Lady Jill Biden and Emily Travinski, president of American Library Association), the danger of legislation that requires teachers to report LGBTQIA+ children to their families, and the devastating effect of efforts that restrict access to transgender health care.


As a member of the Ferguson Library Board of Directors, I know the challenges that library staff have faced in recent years. Ferguson Library staff members received threats for hosting drag story hours, and librarians across the country have been vilified for just doing their jobs. Librarians are highly educated, caring individuals who seek to ensure that libraries’ collections reflect everyone in the community. Books are both windows and mirrors, giving people the information they need to learn about themselves and the world around them, and helping to build empathy by giving people insights into others’ lived stories.  Attempts to restrict access to books are effectively limiting access to literature that makes people feel less alone and helps others to understand their journeys and life experiences.


In terms of legislative advocacy, PFLAG reported that 2023 was one of the worst years on record for LGBTQIA+ Family Advocacy and Support. Stories and voices matter in the effort to take politics out of the equation and bring things to a human and humane level. Legislation that forces teachers to out students is harmful because it potentially deprives young people of a caring, supportive adult. LGBTQIA+ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in the last year.


A panel on transgender health care featured Adm. Rachel Levine, 17th assistant secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, the first openly gay president of the American Medical Association. Gender-affirming care is medically necessary and can be life-saving for members of the transgender community. Medical decisions belong to trans youth, their parents, and their doctors. Leading medical groups recognize the medical necessity of treatments for gender dysphoria and endorse such treatments. Politicians should not interfere with the relationship that transgender young people and their parents have with their medical providers.


Participating in the PFLAG Convention further opened my eyes to the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community and those who care about them. The importance of being an ally can’t be overstated.  So please:  Read a banned book. Advocate for the passage of the Equality Act. Participate in a Pride event. Cheer us on at the Stamford Downtown Balloon Parade on Sunday. Become a PFLAG member, volunteer or financial supporter. But most of all, join us in focusing on LGBTQIA+ Family Advocacy and Support by leading with love and kindness for all in our community.


To Make A Donation To Our Lighthouse Program Click Here

Polly O’Brien Morrow is PFLAG Stamford secretary and Stamford Pride board member.

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