Find a safe place at PFLAG NWA
by Hayden Smith
Parents, family and friends of lesbians and gays can find a safe place for discussion, education and acceptance at PFLAG of Northwest Arkansas (NWA).
On a national level, PFLAG is “the extended family of the LGBTQ community,” according to their website. The organization is dedicated to advancing equality for LGBTQ people with 400 chapters committed to serving the LGBTQ community and the parents, families, friends and allies of its members.
This local chapter of the organization strives to support, educate and advocate for both LGBTQ people and their loved ones to create a safer, more understanding community.
Meetings typically consist of two parts: a speaker or educational program followed by an open group discussion, either about the material or whatever topic is currently weighing on a member’s mind. On some occasions, the meetings don’t adhere to this procedure and take on a more casual social tone.
Cathy Campbell, president of the regional chapter, says PFLAG of Northwest Arkansas has made positive changes on both small and large scales.
She discusses how the local organization has helped provide support for many families both in the public meetings and privately via phone or email.
“Individual families have become more at peace and accepting of their LGBTQ members,” says Campbell. She talks about how important it is just to help people find resources and give them a nonjudgmental ear when they need someone to talk to and air out their anxieties.
PFLAG of Northwest Arkansas also strives to create safer communities through their mission to educate and advocate. Campbell mentions the strides already taken to secure a more open and accepting environment for LGBTQ people.
“We collaborate with many other groups in our education and advocacy efforts. People are better informed, especially about transgender problems. The city council passed a civil rights ordinance which was upheld in a referendum,” she says. “Due to intense lobbying by many organizations, the state legislature did not pass any anti-trans legislation this year.”
They also spread the word with special speaking engagements and at local events.
“PFLAG has participated in educational programs for local police and sheriff departments to help them understand and more appropriately serve transgender people,” Campbell says. “We also set up tables at local festivals and visit with people and hand out literature.”
In upholding the national level of PFLAG’s official mission statement regarding support, education and advocacy, PFLAG of Northwest Arkansas goes above and beyond to create the most affirming, uplifting environment possible for LGBTQ people and their allies within their own communities.
Meetings are open to the public and held the first Monday of every month at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Springdale, Arkansas from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
They encourage anyone who is interested to come, especially parents, friends and family members of LGBTQ people. While PFLAG is primarily an ally organization, they welcome and encourage LGBTQ community members to become involved and attend their meetings.
More details on the chapter and its events as well as contact information can be found on their Facebook page at facebook.com/pflagnwa.
Copyright 2017 The Gayly – June 16, 2017 @ 10:45 a.m.