Supports for LGBTQ2S+ folks
“Family For All” is PFLAG Canada’s newly-minted slogan, and that’s just what we are. The letters originally stood for ‘Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.’ It is readily apparent that this is far too exclusive, leaving out other identities such as Two Spirit, Trans, Queer, Bisexual, Asexual, and others. It also left out people who self-identify somewhere under the rainbow, but aren’t parents or friends of someone who does. The updated website says ‘PFLAG Canada is proud to be Canada’s only national organization that offers peer-to-peer support striving to help all Canadians with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We support, educate and provide resources to anyone with questions or concerns. We promise to offer local, practical, and emotional peer-to-peer family support for individuals and their loved ones challenged by gender/sexual identity.’ https://pflagcanada.ca/
In rural and remote parts of the country, it is often difficult for LGBTQ2S folk to find support and acceptance. Heck, it’s often difficult for us even to find each other! Happily, this has started to change in the last 10 years or so, but we still hear from youth and adults who think they are the only one around here. There are risks to that social isolation: being a victim of violence is but one (other risks include dropping out of school, homelessness, substance abuse, planned or unplanned untimely pregnancy, anxiety and other mental health problems, suicide ideation and completion). One of the aims of the PFLAG meetings and toll-free phone number is the reduction of that sense of isolation, and they provide a means for people to find the information they need.
Gay Straight Alliances, sometimes called Gender and Sexuality Alliances, are school groups with a strong presence in Bluewater’s public schools and in at least one of our Catholic schools. Wonderful current research by UBC’s Elizabeth Saewyc states clearly that the mere presence of a GSA in a school reduces binge-drinking and suicide risk for all students, whether or not they are members. Such a simple thing, yet so powerful! https://news.ubc.ca/tag/elizabeth-saewyc/page/2/
PFLAG is here for you. Members are free to talk about their own situation in confidence. We talk about ways to advocate for others and for changes in laws (such as the roll-back of the sex-ed part of the Health & Phys Ed curriculum, making it into an antiquated document which is older than the students it’s for). We maintain confidentiality whether on the phone or in person. Those who attend or phone are provided with the ear of someone who ‘gets it’ and leave with information about local supports such as Keystone and the various regional LGBT social groups in the area.
Owen Sound PFLAG (and your local library) have a number of books on AIDS, sexual orientation, and gender identity available on loan. Picture books and novels for kids and adults.
PFLAG meetings are held at the Owen Sound Public Library, at 7:00 pm on the third Tuesday each month, all year. Contact us by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or by phone to
1- (888) 530-6777 ext. 570.
If there is no GSA in your school, Ontario law states that if you want one–and you needn’t be LGBTQ2S–you just need to tell the principal, and they are obliged to make it happen. (Ontario Bill 13, the Safe and Accepting Schools Act)