FFLAG gets Big Lottery Fund funding for its 25th Anniversary Conference 

This year, FFLAG is celebrating its 25thbirthday with a Conference and Celebration Dinner in Manchester over the weekend of 10thand 11thNovember.    The Conference, “Reaching for the Rainbow: 25 years strong”, will celebrate 25 years of families supporting and campaigning for their LGBT+ loved ones.   It will also plan the work of FFLAG going forward and discuss how to build up the work of local parents’ and family groups.

The Conference is possible thanks to funding from The Big Lottery Fund.

The Conference is aimed at parents and others with an LGBT+ family member, and organisations with an interest in the support of families with LGBT+ members.    We will discuss topics such as “helping parents with strong religious beliefs”, “what to say to your transgender child” and “how to set up a local group to support parents of LGBT+ children”.    Speakers are coming from a range of organisations with expertise in these areas.

For further information contact events@fflag.org.uk

FFLAG supports the MET

On Thursday, FFLAG trustees attended the Metropolitan Police Service Hate Crime Roadshow for all their staff, in particular, their hate crime investigators, safer schools officers, neighbourhood Policing teams and safer transport teams.  The day was about officers and staff being aware of what help there is for victims of hate crime and their families.

Bruce and Janet Kent were invited to represent FFLAG on the day to provide information and resources about the work that we do and to learn how we can better work alongside them.

Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, Head of Community Engagement for the MET said, “FFLAG is a wonderful support for families and really important support to help when young people are going through such an important time in their lives.”

LGBT and Caring

A valuable new booklet LGBT and Caring has  recently been published  by Carers Wales. It was produced with help from Pride Cymru.

Caring can be and isolating experience and being a carer from the LGBTQ+ community can add additional challenges. Some people feel the support services are ‘not for them’ and won’t understand their needs. Some people may access support late or not at all because they anticipate stigma or discrimination. This adds to the impact on the carer’s life, and can increase feelings of isolation.

This booklet explores the experiences of LGBTQ+ carers and outlines what support is available. There is information on various topics such as getting support from the local council to different ways of managing someone’s affairs. The booklet is available in both English and Welsh.

For a copy of the booklet please contact Carers Wales www.carerswales.org

 

An Evening to Remember

Families and friends met for a wonderful evening at the House of Lords in June. A reception and dinner was held to celebrate the passing of equalities legislation and the work of FFLAG over the years. The evening was kindly hosted by Lord Norton of Louth and attended by over 100 guests. FFLAG patrons Lord Cashman of Limehouse and Peter Tatchell joined us and spoke about FFLAG’s contribution to the LGBT community. Lord Norton enlighted us on much of the equalities legislation and the work that has gone on over the years to ensure LGBT  rights.

It was lovely to see FFLAG parents from Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the West Country join with friends and families and share stories of   FFLAG’s work and that of the parents support groups. There were also many guests supporting FFLAG for the first time. It was good to be able to talk about our work and to have such encouraging feedback.

We would like to thank Lord Norton most sincerely for hosting such a memorable evening and to thank Ken Batty for his amazing organisational skill and making it all happen.

Charity Partnership

FFLAG  has been chosen to be  HerbertSmithFreehills IRIS Network charity Partner of the year. Trustees Bruce and Janet Kent recently attended the launch party and met with Adam McCann, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Executive who said

‘The Herbert Smith Freehills IRIS (Inclusion Respecting Identity and Sexuality) Network is delighted to partner with FFLAG as our charity partner of the year. I believe FFLAG’s work is incredibly important for all families to flourish, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  At our firm we celebrate the differences of our colleagues and uphold a culture of inclusion which aligns with the work FFLAG does to celebrate and support diverse families.’ 

We are so pleased to have the opportunity of partnering with the IRIS Network and raising FFLAG’s profile.  The more people are aware of FFLAG, the more we will be able to reach out and help all those looking for the unique support we offer.

Manchester Parents Group NASUWT Conference

14th to 16th April 2017

Day 1

Figure 1 – Barbara Chris and Lois

Barbara, Chris and I arrived at Manchester Central bright and early to give us time to put the stall together ready or the Exhibition attached to the NASUWT Conference. I think it can be safely said that we won any award going for the brightest, most cheerful stand! Sadly, our lovely FFLAG roll up display decided to part company from the top bar so we were unable to use it. Being resourceful – we are parents after all – we quickly ensured there were plenty of FFLAG booklets and cards on display.

It was a mixed day of mad flurries of activity followed by lulls, however we had some interesting conversations.  It was a huge worry to us that a retired teacher informed us that they had never had any LGBT+ youngsters in the schools she had worked in and then went on to tell us she had never heard of Section 28!  The biggest stumbling block still seems to be that of Catholic and faith schools.  Many teachers were concerned that their school wouldn’t even enter into dialogue about LGBT+ issues.  Chris was quite shocked when a teacher told him that there were no LGBT+ issues in her school as it is a “special needs” establishment.  Chris, having worked as a support worker with learning, and physically, disabled young men was quick to interject that there were definitely some gay people amongst the young men he supported.

 

Day 2

Saturday was covered by Bernadette, our longest serving parent to be still active in the group, and Carole.

The following writeup for Day 2 is provided by Carole: People who stopped to talk to us were all women; it was quite noticeable how the men glanced and walked past. Those who stopped at the stall ranged from a married lesbian couple, knowledgeable and interested, to someone who told us that they “didn’t have LGBT students in their school”, at least, they said, “it never comes up”. (this seems to have been a common theme throughout the weekend) It seems as if teachers have an expectation that LGBT+ students would take the initiative and “disclose” their identity privately before they could show an interest, as if being LGBT+ was a dirty secret. We brought up ideas about normalising the wide variety of gender and sexuality issues; they didn’t have to be kept to the private office or even PHSE classes, but could be mentioned matter-of-factly in passing.

One or two teachers referred to what they saw as the delicacy of mentioning these issues appropriately. A maths teacher said it wasn’t her business, she was there to teach maths, she left that sort of thing to the PHSE teacher or the form teacher. We chatted casually about how the language we used, in school and outside, could be more relaxed without formally or overtly talking about LGBT matters. For example, we might talk about ‘partners’ rather than ‘husband’ or ‘wife’; and talking about gender-fluid or intersex people – or just students whose gender they were uncertain of – we could use ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’.

Teachers of people with learning difficulties, and teachers in Catholic schools had their own particular struggles. These were sometimes dealt with by plain denial; the issue didn’t exist, or again “it never came up”. One teacher in a faith school was concerned about her students feeling as if they had to keep their true selves below the radar, and went away with a fistful of leaflets, determined to discover her school’s policy on difference and prejudice.

From our side of the stall we found that rather than trying to press our agenda, showing a sympathetic interest and inviting teachers to tell us more about how they felt (even if what they said seemed alienating to us) led us into more trusting and interesting conversations. By the end of the day we were just getting the hang of it!

Day 3

Barbara and I were accompanied by Matt on the Sunday, when Barbara had the splendid idea of using the FFLAG t-shirt she had as a table display.

Figure 3 – Barbara with FFLAG leaflets

Figure 2 – Barbara and Matt

Again we were bemused by some of the prevalent attitudes.  The best visitor to the stall had to be the young Muslim woman who visited us and voiced her anger that the school she worked at were being incredibly blinkered around LGBT+ issues and left with a ream of leaflets and information.  It was a fabulous feeling to know that attitudes are changing across the board.  Again we had a fraught conversation with a teacher who professed to have no problems dealing with LGBT+ students but was continually critical of a gender neutral young person who she insisted on calling a girl, but told us that they sometimes identified as female or male.  She seemed to think everything had to revolve around this young person in their school, but missed the point that once systems and procedures were in place they would benefit everyone.

Then we had the lady who insisted very loudly on using the term “hermaphrodite” we were horrified and explained that the correct term was “intersex” she, however, continued to use the wrong term saying that in the animal kingdom it is still used, even when we pointed out that human beings, whilst being – technically – animals, were not called hermaphrodite but called intersex.  It alarmed us how so many teachers were not prepared to learn!

On the whole, we can say that it was an incredibly interesting experience, most of the work we did was aimed towards FFLAG more than our own group as the delegates were from all over the country.  But we did make some excellent contacts within the NASUWT team as well as discussing with two delegates from Belfast the need for, and how to implement, a Parent Support Group in Northern Ireland.  Thank you to FFLAG for giving us this opportunity to be involved in this exhibition

Figure 4 – Barbara in action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lois Fitzpatrick, Manchester Parents Group  19th April 2017

Celebration Dinner at the House of Lords

On Friday 16th June 2017, the Trustees of FFLAG will be hosting a dinner in the Peers’ Dining Room of the House of Lords to celebrate the passing of the equalities legislation we were set up to fight for and to share with you how we now plan to build on this platform to improve attitudes in society towards our LGBT loved ones.

We will start at 6.15p.m. with a private tour of the Palace of Westminster.  It is not expected that either House will be sitting at that time but both Chambers will be specially opened so that we can go in.   The tour will also visit Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the palace dating back to the 1080s, and the Central, Peers’ and Members’ lobbies.

After the tour, we will hold a drinks reception in the Peers’ Guest Room before taking our seats in the Peer’s Dining Room.   After dinner, there will be speeches from our host, Rt Hon Prof the Lord Norton of Louth, our Patron, the Lord Cashman, and our Chair, Sorrel Atkinson, about the latest developments at FFLAG.

We plan to finish around 10:30p.m.
The cost of the event is £125.00 per head.  Booking arrangements are as follows: –

a)    Drop a note to events@fflag.org.uk confirming how many tickets you want. To reduce correspondence, please include any special requirements regarding diet, mobility or anything else next to the full name of each guest and the postal address for the tickets.   Please also let us know if you or any in your party are not planning to join the tour, but intend to come direct to the reception at 7:15p.m.

b)    You will receive a confirmation that tickets are still available and have been reserved for you, together with details of the bank account into which to make your payment.

c)    To keep administration to a minimum your payment will not be acknowledged but you will receive your tickets by post within 14 days of payment.

Dress code is lounge suit or similar (e.g. jacket and tie).
We hope you will be able to join us for what we are sure will be a fantastic evening.

The Second International Conference of Parents with LGBTQI Children in Kiev

Bruce and Janet Kent were privileged to represent FFLAG at this two day conference in November. Their presence was generously made possible by the British Embassy in Kiev.
Representatives from 13 countries gathered in Ukraine’s capital city to focus on tolerance in religion and education for LGBT+ people.
Parents from as far apart as Belarus, Canada, Great Britain, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine shared their deeply moving stories and professionals from various disciplines contributed up to date research highlighting ways to improve life for those affected by restrictive legislation and prejudice around the globe.
One lady told Janet how reading one father’s story on the FFLAG website was life changing for her and motivated her to begin to speak out on behalf of her gay son.
Janet and Bruce also addressed the conference, describing the work FFLAG does, highlighting principles of best practice that we’ve learned over the years, and indicating where we believe more work needs to be done.
We can easily take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in the UK to enjoy equality and the protection of law and also the access we have to information and support of all kinds.  Many of the parents at the conference came because they are starved of support for themselves and their LGBT+ loved ones and long to enjoy the freedoms that we do.

Pride Cymru Youth Conference 2016

FFLAG was invited to participate in this year’s conference on the 15th October. Two trustees, Virginia and Jenny took part in a very interesting and challenging day focussing on coming out safely.
A variety of organisations representing parts of the LGBT+ community, such as Trans*form, Bi Cymru, Stonewall Cymru, Spectrum Project/ Rainbow Bridge were in attendance.
There were stimulating sessions on children’s rights, anxiety awareness, self-help and Wise Kids promoting positive and safe internet use for children, young people and those who support them.
In the afternoon we adjourned to a nearby cinema to watch the 2016 Iris Prize Youth Shorts nominations and vote for the film we considered best – well those in the audience under 25 could!
In FFLAG’s session Virginia and I talked about our work and plans for the future and then we had a Q and A. It began with a very moving tribute to FFLAG by a member of the audience and then the questions – stimulating, provoking, not always easy to answer, many from the young trans people present.
So it had certainly been an interesting day – we learned a lot, met some lovely people and would like to thank Cath Harrison from Pride Cymru very much for inviting FFLAG to take part.

FFLAG Strategy

Over the summer, Bruce and Hugh visited the groups that had agreed to help FFLAG identify the key issues and challenges that face us nationally and locally. This consultation has been invaluable in clarifying what people believe should be FFLAG’s role nationally, internationally and, most importantly, in relation to affiliated groups around the UK, as shown by the diagram below.
Work is now under way to translate the feedback received from the consultation into a strategic plan. 

In 2017 we  will update everyone on the plan and our progress towards achieving it, when we will also seek further input on key issues such as diversity and trans where we have identified different approaches between affiliated groups that we think should be shared and reconciled.
A key message from our consultation is that local groups must decide for themselves what their priorities should be. FFLAG’s strategy respects that autonomy and recognises that our role at local level is essentially to support and co-ordinate resources for our “front line” groups to meet the continuing and the changing needs of families and friends.