New group lays out PFLAG welcome matA national nonprofit organization that holds monthly support meetings for lesbians, gays and transgender persons, along with their families and friends, has formed a River Falls-based chapter that will represent the St. Croix Valley region.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
A national nonprofit organization that holds monthly support meetings for lesbians, gays and transgender persons, along with their families and friends, has formed a River Falls-based chapter that will represent the St. Croix Valley region.
The first local meeting of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians, Gays) is in the River Falls Public Library board room at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19.
Local PFLAG President Lisa Thompson said that while the new chapter hopes to attract members, the first meeting -- and all subsequent meetings -- is open to anyone to attend.
“We want to reach out to families and especially those with children who are exploring or uncertain of their sexual orientation,” Thompson said. “Our meetings are designed to provide a safe environment where you can talk freely, not feel isolated and get the support and education you need.”
She said PFLAG meetings will be “somewhat casual” and use a “circle process” of seating that allows for “open, respectful communication for each person to have the opportunity to speak.”
Thompson, who moved to River Falls eight years ago, has a lesbian daughter who attended Meyer Middle School and the local high school but ended up graduating from a St. Paul charter school.
“At the time, it was a tough community here for her to move to,” Thompson said of the situation. “There were problems, some of them just being new and trying to fit in.
“As a parent, you live with that anxiety about wanting to prevent your children from being hurt or discriminated against.”
The national PFLAG has existed for some 30 years. The nearest chapters are across the river in Red Wing and St. Paul.
Thompson said the River Falls chapter branched out of another newly formed local group called Coalition for a Compassionate Community, headed up by President Nancy Holden.
The Coalition/Compassionate group was discussing “the bullying in schools” topic when some members decided that forming a PFLAG chapter would be an ideal way to further address the topic.
“As we know, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community is more affected by bullying,” Thompson said.
For more on this story, please see the April 12 print edition of the River Falls Journal.