Special Presenter at Spokane PFLAG in September!

For the month of September, our big sister chapter over in Spokane will be discussing the topic of Advocacy in Healthcare as it pertains to the LGBT community. This is a very important topic– I recently attended a meeting of the Houston, TX chapter of PFLAG. As you may know, Houston became the largest city to pass a blanket non-discrimination ordinance, locally known as HERO. The panel of speakers for the first month of fall were four transgender individuals– three trans-women and one trans-man. The man described an incident wherein he had to go to the emergency room to receive care for kidney stones. His outward appearance being male, the healthcare providers were shocked to see internal female reproductive organs on the scan of his abdomen. The physician actually audibly scoffed and refused to treat this man. Somehow, the nurse was able to get him medication to ease his pain, but the fear of ever returning to any doctor’s office remains.

Press Release from Spokane PFLAG:

On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, PFLAG Spokane is pleased to invite the community to a public discussion about how local citizens can educate and advocate in effective ways regarding access to health care for all families and individuals. This facilitated conversation will take place from 7pm to 8:30pm at Bethany Presbyterian Church, 2607 S Ray St.
The evening will start with a short film about the impact of mergers at the National level, a short presentation on the status in Washington State and specific concerns for the LGBT community and their friends and family members. The final part of the evening will involve specific possibilities for activism and advocacy at the local level- making sure that all voices are heard as important health decisions and access to care are being made.

Kathy Reim is the facilitator. She is the former Regional Director for PFLAG in the Pacific Northwest and has a long history as an activist and educator on behalf of the gay community, women, and older people. She also serves on the board for Mount Baker Planned Parenthood and the Pride Foundation.

She lives with her husband, daughter and her daughter’s wife in rural Skagit County.

Check out the details on the Facebook event page here.

spokane pflag september

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LGBTQ+ 101

We’re shaking up the meeting a little bit next month and planning a fun educational session! Get ready to learn a little something. You don’t want to miss it as we explore the myths and stereotypes that have plagued the LGBT community for decades in the form of a game of “Mingle”!

august meeting flyer jpg REDO

For now, here are some resources for you to brush up on our topic:

UCLA – LGBTQ+ Terminology

University of Michigan – Lesbian History: Cultural Issues

Huffington Post – Gay Men Stereotypes That Need To Be Challenged

ACLU – Article on Transgender Discrimination

Nine Anti-Trans Slurs to Avoid

Mothers’ Perspectives: Part One

First off, a heartfelt thank you to Bev Moss, her daughter, Susan and Verna Swan and her son, Josh. It was courageous to stand up the way you did last night and bare your honest experiences with the group. It was wonderful to see how perspectives the same exact situation could differ, even to the point of reminding one another what had happened.

Part one is for Bev and Susan Moss:

“Isn’t it wonderful when one person loves another?”

In the case of Susan Moss, her coming out story began at age 16, nearly 25 years ago. Obviously, the societal climate toward the LGBT community was much different. (If you think we’ve got work to do now, just imagine how far we’ve come.) Susan noticed something different about herself as she entered her teenage years, but didn’t have a definitive answer until her first relationship with another girl at 16.

She didn’t want to tell anyone. It is important to note that Susan and Bev never really talked about it.They began the reminiscence by disclaiming that neither one really new what the other was going to say. “Let’s see how this goes,” they said. Bev, Susan’s mother, chimed in to take over a little of the story then. She told us that she had confronted Susan. “Are you gay?” After giving the confirmation, Susan felt like a ‘failure at coming out.’ She felt as though the control she had over her own story had been taken from her, and she ran from the situation, eventually leaving North Idaho altogether for a period.

In the year 1988, Bev cried over the news that her daughter was gay. Not necessarily the fact, but the struggles of disclosing the information to other family members, the unhealthy high school relationship Susan was in and the widespread misinformation of HIV and AIDS during that time. Even though, she’d had suspicions, the confirmation meant she couldn’t hide with her “head in the sand” anymore; she had to wage this uphill battle alongside her daughter.

Advice given to Susan’s parents is universal and so important for all to hear:

Ask your child for three years to fully adjust. It’s likely that it took that long or longer for your child to come to terms with this part of themselves. Do as much research as you can. Get the facts because having knowledge is the best way to assuage fear. Remind yourself that this person is the same person you called your child yesterday; you’ve just learned some new information about them.

This wise, before-his-time man was also quoted as saying “Isn’t it wonderful when one person loves another?”

Bev has long since fully accepted this piece of Susan’s identity, spending years manning the hotline for concerned parents of LGBT persons and providing a safe, accepting place in her home for Susan’s peers. And Susan has returned to Coeur d’Alene and is working tirelessly to make Coeur d’Alene schools secure and inclusive for all students.

Bev

Bev

Susan (2nd from the left) and her gorgeous family

Susan (2nd from the left) and her gorgeous family

Unitarian Universalists of North Idaho

Q: What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Unitarian Universalist?
A: Someone who knocks on your door and asks you what YOU believe.

Have you heard of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations? For short, and because meetings are generally on Sunday, we call it “church”. But it’s not like any church you’ve ever been to.

uua logoThe Unitarians promote and live their lives by seven pretty basic principles:

1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person

2. Justice, equality and compassion in all human relations

3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to grow spiritually

4. A free (as in uninhibited) and responsible search for truth and meaning

5. The right of conscious and the democratic process, both in the congregations and society at large

6. The goal of the world community with peace, liberty and justice for all

7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Sounds great, right? No dogma or doctrine. Just guidelines for living life well and respecting the lives you encounter along the way. A church that encourages the concept of “life before death”. Learn as much as you want by visiting their website.

coexist2The local chapter of the Unitarian Universalists has been serving the Coeur d’Alene area with meetings most Sundays, book discussions, dances and socials. I’ve attended a handful of times over the last year because, personally, I love the community feeling of a church without Jesus Christ being shoved down my (and my kids’) throat. Just one woman’s opinion.

If you are interested in learning more about the North Idaho Unitarian Universalists, please consider attending a mixer being hosted by one of the congregations members or sitting in on a service. The meetings are held at the Harding Family Center at 411 N. 15th St in Coeur d’Alene from 10:30 to 11:30AM. Childcare is provided for free most Sundays, and this is one of the most welcoming bunches of people I have ever met!  uuni bbq invite 2 jpeg

Jeanne Manford PFLAG Way – A New Street in Queens

(First of all, does anyone else see the irony that the founder of an LGBT rights group lived in Queens? I’m sorry if that’s not PC, but it is a cute coincidence.)

What was formerly know as 171st St in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. is being officially renamed in honor of the founder of PFLAG. We’ve been learning about Jeanne Manford, the spirited mother who was unfailingly proud and supportive of her gay son and unwitting founder of one of the largest LGBT and ally support group organizations.

Jeanne died last year at the age of 92.

Read the full article here.

The Secret Gay Agenda – Letter to the Editor

Locally, we are dealing with a fraught situation. Several months ago, the city council of Coeur d’Alene voted in favor of an ordinance that protects citizens from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Did you know that ‘no state entity acting as an employer (including the CDA school district) needs to comply with the ordinance’? Well, they don’t, and that’s why Susan Moss is spearheading the campaign to extend these securities to both employees and students of the school district.

city ordinance

photo credit: Jerome Pollo/ CDA Press The community room in the CDA Library was packed with people on both sides of the argument last June. Even with two-minute time limits and calls to avoid repetition, the meeting lasted over 5 hours and culminated in a passage of the policy by overwhelming majority.

There have been some rough letters to the editor to the local newspapers, including those which accuse those in support of the policy change of promoting a “hidden gay agenda”.. Here is Rebecca McNeill’s response:

I can’t believe you found us out. The LGBT community is only pretending to want equal rights and nondiscrimination in public arenas. That’s the front, of course. But really, it’s all about the bathrooms. The secret agenda is: Gaining access to all bathrooms, all the time.

As the bisexual mother of two children in the Coeur d’Alene School District, I only pretend to care about the possible negative side effects of declaring that I’m bisexual in this letter. I don’t really worry about my children, or their future freedom from the discrimination I faced as a student at Coeur d’Alene High School and North Idaho College. Don’t be silly. I’m not worried about whether this statement will affect my ability to be hired as a teacher in the district, or if the next parent-teacher conference I attend is painfully awkward. No, Mr. Finney — you have nailed it on the head. I want to use the boys’ bathroom. I want my kids to attend public school and willy-nilly use any bathroom or locker room they please. I can’t believe you saw through our cover story of wanting “equal rights under the law” or “to not be bullied to the point of attempting suicide.” I just want to watch you pee.

 I suppose, now that the truth has been discovered, I shall carry on with my personal LGBT agenda of making dinner for my kids and watching some TV.

Here is the original link. If you read the comments, be prepared to fume. If you can be at the school board meeting tonight, either in solidarity or to speak out about the need for “adding the words”, please join up!

 

“Out With Dad” – video

Out With Dad is a web-series written and directed by Jason Leaver. In three (and counting) series and 34+ episodes, a story unfolds about Rose, a closeted teen lesbian, and her relationship with her single-parent father, Nathan. The 10-20 minute episodes deal with themes such as the challenges that face LGBT youth in coming out as well as the struggles of the parents of said young adults. PFLAG Canada officially endorses the series.

View the entire series, as well as more information on Out With Dad, here.

This episode show a meeting with a local PFLAG chapter, attended by both seasoned members of the LGBT community, parents and people who are just making the first step. According to the video, the stories told are truthful and only minimal changes have been made for dramatic purposes.

Part I:

Part 2:

Inaugural Meeting of PFLAG CDA

First and foremost:

Thanks to everyone for coming out! It was an amazingly informative meeting and we packed that 15-by-15-foot room with the most incredible energy!

Thank you to our brave leader, Juli Stratton for bringing us all together to discuss these important issues faced by our community. I have always been an ally, but it has not always been easy to break in to a normally close-knit and protective group and help. Thank you, Juli, for this outlet!

juli

Thanks, Juli!

It was amazing to be surrounded by people who come from all walks of life and embody every possible connection to the LGBT community, hearing the motivations behind their activism.

“I was raised in North Idaho, and I was taught and I believe that ‘you leave your campsite better than when you found it’…”

-Josh Swan

Bev Moss, who was integral to the original PFLAG Chapter in Coeur d’Alene, spoke to the history of the struggles of the LGBT community in this conservative location. In her view, our organization promising a safe place is even more critical now. Today’s climate is even more harsh than a few decades ago. The advent of “mega-churches” who blatantly spew hate and the connection of social media is a detriment to spreading the message of love and support.

1972 jeanne manford

PFLAG Founder, Jeanne Manford; Pride 1972

We hope to grow together and become a true community of humans. Not just LGBT, not just parents and family members. Everyone.

“LGBTQ+. I’m using the “plus” now because I want this to be for everyone. I want this to be because we are all part of the human race.”

-Juli Stratton

Subsequent meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of every month, from 6-7:30PM. The first hour will be discussion panels, guest speakers, videos, et cetera focusing on a predetermined theme. The following thirty minutes will be a support group for those who wish to stay.

Hope to see you there!