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January 2014

PFLAG Buffalo Niagara

PFLAG Buffalo/ Niagara

Parents, Families, Friends and Allies United with LGBTQ People

PO Box 617
Buffalo, NY 14207

We meet because we have

learned that someone very close
to us is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
or Transgendered.

Januarys Meeting
Special Focus: Spiritual Roundtable
January 18, 2:30-5:00

We try to help one another deal

with this information in a
positive manner.
Although we do not agree at all
times, we try to be
We offer help to those who seek
it, but do not force ourselves on
We strive to maintain anonymity
while sharing on a level that is
comfortable for all of us. We
encourage all to attend meetings
for their own benefit as well as
that of the group.
It is our hope that when each of
us reaches a point of
understanding and acceptance,
we realize that this is when
others need us the most.

We welcome leaders of local faith communities who will

share their welcoming and affirming messages and beliefs
and answer questions.
Please keep in mind that any new parents or attendees who wish to
meet privately with a PFLAG parent may still do so.

The sharing meetings are held at Kenilworth United Church of Christ from
2:30-5:00. Newcomers and anyone interested will be offered the option of
meeting privately with a PFLAG parent. Our monthly meetings are in the
library, which is near the parking lot entrance. The facility is handicapped
accessible. New Parents Meetings are scheduled as needed at a location
convenient to those involved. These self-help one-on-one meetings deal with the
concerns of parents and family members who have recently learned that a loved
one is gay.

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Barbara J. King;
December 11. 201

What happens in a small, semi-rural community in a southern state when an "out"

transgender student decides to speak up for his civil rights?
Here in Gloucester County, Virginia, where I live not far from the Historic Triangle of
Yorktown-Williamsburg-Jamestown the answer is that all hell breaks loose.
For years here at 13.7, I've been writing about the spectrum of gender expression,
the fact that gender identity isn't only or even mostly about biology and that it's
most certainly not reducible to the sex one is assigned at birth. I've celebrated that
spectrum, and worried over discrimination against transgender individuals.
Now these issues have hit home in a very direct and local way: A 10th grade student
named Gavin Grimm, who was born female and identifies as male, has challenged
the status quo and asked to use his gender-identified bathroom the boys'
bathroom at the local high school here.
On Tuesday night, divisiveness erupted during an open commentary period before
the school board's vote on this proposal, put forth last month by board member Carla
Hook in response to Grimm's request:
Whereas the GCPS (Gloucester County Public Schools) recognizes that some students question
their gender identities, and
Whereas the GCPS encourages such students to seek support and advice from parents,
professionals and other trusted adults, and
Whereas the GCPS seeks to provide a safe learning environment for all students and to protect
the privacy of all students, therefore
It shall be the practice of the GCPS to provide male and female restroom and locker room
facilities in its schools, and the use of said facilities shall be limited to the corresponding
biological genders, and students with sincere gender identity issues shall be provided an
alternative private facility
Hook emphasized in her remarks Tuesday night that the seven school board
members extensively researched issues related to transgenderism in the schools,
with the aim of protecting all the school district's children.
What I see in the proposal is a misguided notion ("if you have a penis you go to the
boys' bathroom, if you have a vagina you go to the girls' bathroom," as one
commenter put it Tuesday night) of what gender identity is, and a failure to include
Grimm under the much-vaunted protective umbrella meant for "all students."

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Dozens of county residents (including me) spoke out regarding the proposal. Grimm's
mother, Dee Grimm, noted that her "awesome kid" had been allowed by the school's
principal to use the boys' bathroom since October, a development that Grimm himself
referred to as "unimaginably wonderful, giving me all my rights in full." In support of
Grimm, one attendee, noted that transgender rights are "the civil rights issue of our
time," and several others agreed. Most comments, however, turned on an
assumption that non-transgender kids' privacy will be violated in ways that may
cause them harm if the policy were not to pass. Distressingly, Grimm was referred to
as "a girl" and as "a freak" during this period.
When the policy came to a vote, it passed 6-1, meaning Grimm can no longer use the
boys' bathroom.
"My school," Grimm told me by email after the vote, "which for every student should
be a safe haven, has now become an unsafe and unwelcoming place."
Whether a unisex restroom is provided for Grimm as seems to be the school
board's intention or not, "the mental ramifications will be tremendous," Grimm
noted. "I have a history of depression and anxiety. Both conditions will certainly be
inflamed by the decision of the school board more so than they already have been.
Furthermore, I find the unisex option unacceptable, as I am not 'other; 'third' or
'unisex.' Certainly not 'unisex.' I view it as discrimination still, and will fight it to the
full extent of my capabilities."
James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, an organization working for
transgender rights, expressed in a written statement his organization's
disappointment with the school board's voting. He said the board voted in "a policy
that not only discriminates against transgender students, but one that we believe to
be illegal under Title IX." By telephone Wednesday, Parrish told me that, at the
school board meeting, he heard "clear misunderstandings and genuine confusion
about the issue at hand, which is about one student trying to live his gender.
Expressed concerns were about privacy issues, but that is not the essence here."

The lone school board member to vote against the proposal, Kim Enderson Hensley,
also expressed concern to me about legal ramifications of the school board's
decision: "This decision is wrong because it violates the civil rights of transgender
students by denying them equal access to school facilities. Title IX as interpreted by
the Department of Justice and the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights
requires all public schools to treat transgender students consistent with the student's
gender identity.
No school board can substitute its own interpretation of the law for that of the
Department of Education. Failing to comply with Title IX puts Gloucester County
Public Schools' federal funding at risk. Gloucester County Public Schools can protect
the privacy rights of all students and still comply with Title IX by retrofitting

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bathrooms to make sure that there are only stalls in the boys' and girls' bathrooms
[versus, for example, open urinals in the boys' bathrooms]."
One 15-year-old boy may be at the heart of these local issues but the issue is a
nationally significant one. Earlier this month, a Maine court ordered a school district
to pay a transgendered teen $75,000 in settlement of her discrimination lawsuit also
involving bathroom rights. As the Associated Press reported, it was the first time a
state high court in the U.S. ruled that a transgender person must be able to use the
bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
Grimm told me that "potential state or federal involvement" may now work in his
favor, and in favor of the transgender population more generally: "The likelihood of a
policy being made, rather than this issue just being dealt with on a case by case
basis, has gone up substantially."
In the brief time I've known Grimm, I've come to recognize him as a forceful
spokesperson not only for his own rights but also for those of other trans teens. As
he told a local news outlet, "Seeing that I have been put in this position, I feel that it
is my moral duty to help as many people as I can with this, because I know I'm not
the only transgender student at Gloucester High School, and I know I'm not the only
transgender student that will ever go to Gloucester High School."
By By Brittney McKenna November 25, 2014

Last Thursday, two mainstream country singers came out of the closet.
The first, '90s star Ty Herndon, revealed his identity as an "out, proud and happy gay man"
in an interview with People magazine. Hours later, singer Billy Gilman followed Herndon's lead,
posting a video to YouTube to share with his fans that he too is gay. The singers are two of
only a handful of country artists who publicly identify as gay, making their announcements
major steps forward for LGBT rights in the country music community. That's saying something.
Country music, as the Dixie Chicks learned in 2003, doesn't necessarily have a track record of
being particularly friendly towards public declarations of progressive politics.
But in 2014 especially, things have gotten notably better. Herndon's and Gilman's revelations
come during a year that has seen a handful of other important artist-led milestones for LGBT
rights in the country music industry, milestones that indicate the LGBT-averse reputation of
country artists might not be all that deserved. They're also milestones that strongly suggest

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that country music's historic conservatism has more to do with business than with country fans
or artists.
Even in the fictional world, country is changing. ABC's Nashville prominently featured a
storyline a lot like those of Herndon and Gilman, revolving around the struggles of a closeted
country singer named Will Lexington. The show has taken its time letting Lexington's story
develop, careful to show how his primary reason for remaining closeted is fear of destroying his
career. That Nashville is made in conjunction with major industry players and songwriters
especially gives weight to the show's decision to portray Lexington's storyline as they have.
But big things are happening in the real city of Nashville too. In October, the queen of country
herself, Dolly Parton, made no bones about her support for her gay fans, telling Billboard, "I
think everybody should be allowed to be who they are, and to love who they love. I don't think
we should be judgmental. Lord, I've got enough problems of my own to pass judgment on
somebody else."
Earlier this year, Kacey Musgraves forged a new relationship between country and GLAAD,
becoming the first country artist to perform at the GLAAD Media Awards. Appropriately,
Musgraves sang "Follow Your Arrow," a single off her 2013 album Same Trailer, Different
Park that encourages same-sex relationships "if that's what you're into."
"Follow Your Arrow" went on to win Song of the Year at the CMA Awards earlier this month. The
victory seemed to surprise even Musgraves, who took the stage to accept the award and
exclaimed, "Do you guys realize what this means for country music?" As the song was up
against higher-charting hits with less controversial subjects, it wasn't exactly favored to win.
Not only that, the CMAs are voted on by fellow members of the music industry. So this win
especially felt like a victory for a new brand of progressivism in country music, one led by the
artists themselves.
It's not just a victory for the message. Musgraves co-wrote "Follow Your Arrow" with Brandy
Clark and Shane McAnally, two openly gay Music Row songwriters who have written many of
the biggest hits of the last few years. Between the two of them, Clark and McAnally have
worked with an all-star roster of artists that includes Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley, Kenny
Chesney and Reba McEntire, collaborations that again show country music's historic and

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stereotypical lack of LGBT representation doesn't have much to do with the actual artists
recording and performing country songs.
But there has been a lack of representation for LGBT voices in country, and it clearly isn't
coming from the artists it's coming from the business itself.
Country music's historic closed-mindedness likely has far more to do with those who control
the music's distribution than those who create or listen it. As Flavorwire's Jillian Mapes pointed
out, "Follow Your Arrow" reached No. 10 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs Chart, which factors
streaming and digital sales into chart positions, while it only managed to hit No. 43 on the
radio-only Country Airplay Chart. That's an indication that it's country gatekeepers on an
industry level not fans who have a bigger problem with Musgraves' progressive
message. A report from Billboard cited those gatekeepers claiming they wanted to play the
song but couldn't for fear of offending more traditional-minded listeners. In short, the people
were open-minded, but the industry was not.
Thanks to this attitude, country radio is plagued by homogeneity. Despite countless vocal
critics, it's also a radio world that has not had a female Billboard airplay chart-topper since
Carrie Underwood took the top spot for "Blown Away" in 2012. That's largely due to the
industry's commitment only to promoting songs that sound like their definition of a hit. The
statistics show how far the industry has to go, but the artists tell a different story.
As Musgraves proved with her CMA victory and as Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman's fans proved
with their reactions, people are ready for a more diverse range of voices on country radio,
including voices that better represent current feelings towards LGBT rights. It's time the
industry took note. People don't want the old politics any longer.


By Marshall Fine;
September 23, 2014

Pride is the kind of movie that is best seen without knowing its storyline going in. Because it
delivers something quite different than you expect, based on the kind of movie it seems to be.
Even if you do know the plot (which deals with the coal-miners strike that tore Great Britain
apart in the mid-1980s and much more), you still have to see it to believe it. Director Matthew

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Warchus (primarily known for theater work such as God of Carnage and Art) tells a multicharacter story based on actual events that manages to be funny, touching, enraging and
otherwise demanding a viewers emotional response.
It starts with those strikes in Great Britain in 1984, in protest of Margaret Thatchers attempts
to close coal mines and lay off miners. Even as the miners are striking, members of the London
gay community decide, after that years gay pride parade, that they will support the miners
and start raising money for their strike fund. When their efforts to donate the money to the
union itself are ignored (because of who the donation is coming from), the groups leader, Mark
(Ben Schnetzer), rallies his troops and picks one mining village in Wales to whom theyll take
their support in person.
The miners at first are nonplussed at the idea of being in the same room as actual gay people:
Ive never met anyone who was gay, one local says, to which Mark replies, That you know
The gay activists are insistent and ingratiating and confident enough that they start to win
over the village, though there are hold-outs. But those hold-outs have their own agenda as
Read no further if you want to maintain the element of surprise that this film wields. Because,
as history shows us, the miners eventually lost their battle against Thatchers draconian
policies. But the film goes beyond that to look at the subsequent friendships that developed
between members of the gay-activist group and citizens of the mining community.
By the end, were into the AIDS activism of the mid-1980s. The film looks at the surprising new
alliances, borne on an increasing wave of empathy for victims and outrage at the shameful way
the AIDS crisis was handled at the start by both the Reagan and Thatcher administrations.
Bill Nighy is the most prominent name in the cast, but he must compete for attention with such
talented scene-stealers as Imelda Staunton and Dominic West. The laughs are on a level with
the moments that bring a lump to the throat in a film that never feels less than organic and
always feels surprising and alive.
PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara Board of Directors
Phil Salemi, President
Amy Fularz, Vice President
Kristian Rickard, Vice President
Brian Carrier, Treasurer
Michele Perry, Secretary
Lisbeth Ball, Director
Ann Carrier, Director
Julie Christiano, Director
Julie Lazzaro Thompson, Director

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Please join or rejoin PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara!

Please join our PFLAG chapter to support our mission at whatever level membership you wish.

Lifetime Membership ................................ $500

BenefactorMembership ....................... $250

Sponsoring Membership ... $100 (Business Card Advertisement ($100 for 10 issues)

Supporting Membership .......................... $50

Household Membership . $30

Newsletter Subscription Only... $15

Donations of $50.00 or more can be included in the chapter newsletter.
Your National PFLAG membership is included in your local chapter dues. You will also receive the quarterly
PFLAG-Pole Newsletter delivered to your home or by email from the national office. If you do not want this
mailing, please note that with your payment.
Make checks payable to PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara and mail to: P.O. Box 617 Buffalo, NY
PFLAG Buffalo/Niagara is a non-profit 501(c)3 and donations are tax-deductible.

PFLAG Buffalo-Niagara, is a non-profit, all volunteer, community-based organization

not affiliated with any ethnic, religious, economic or political group. Membership is open
to all. PFLAG membership lists are kept confidential and mailings are sent in plain

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