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“Take the Leap” was the theme of the National School Boards Association’s 73rd Annual Conference and Exposition, held April 12-15, 2013. I took the leap on Saturday, the 13th by manning my first PFLAG booth ever. During my shift with Patti Boman at the opening of the exhibition, it became clear that many have taken the leap to acknowledge and support GLBTQ students in the nation’s schools.
One of the first to stop and chat was Jim Caldwell. He told us about the work of his father, retired Methodist minister Gilbert H. Caldwell. Reverend Caldwell’s interest in human rights spans decades. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement and currently serves on the board of PFLAG National. Before my shift ended at 2:00 p.m., Jim had called his father and secured a pledge from him to help our PFLAG chapter reach out to our local black community. Wow.
Several others friendly to the cause of caring for GLBTQ students stopped by with information about what’s going on in their neighborhoods, cities, and states to provide these kids with the support they need,to our great encouragement. Two of our most enthusiastic visitors came all the way from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Cathy Collins and Darlyne Bautista. Many others asked for information to take back to their school districts. It felt good to be able to provide them with resources.
An architect from the San Francisco bay area stopped by to thank us for advocating for GLBTQ students. “It’s so much better now than when I was a young student,” he said. “What you’re doing is so important to these kids.” When asked if he had any GLBTQ family members, he answered with tears in his eyes, “Yes, me.”
Still another visitor told us about the gay friendly displays seen during a tour of High Tech High School in Point Loma and commented on the acceptance of GLBTQ youth apparent throughout the school.
A quick tour of the exhibits provided further encouragement. For example, the SpyFly Fundraising booth sported a claim to have “America’s only stop bullying homework assignment,” a three-part online assignment tied to SpyFly’s online fundraising process, which does not involve door-to-door sales. Promoting Safe Schools Together ( distributed information about their inexpensive plans for getting student buy-in to an anonymous incident reporting system, one which is working successfully in several school districts. My brief three-hour stint proved to be a great time of sharing and learning, plus a glance at some of the proactive programs school districts around the country are using to make schools safe for everyone, including GLBTQ students. I’m ready to leap into the next event!