January 30, 2018

PFLAGer Karen Mitchell from PFLAG Columbus, Ohio joined PFLAG National staffers Jaime Henkel, Jean-Marie Navetta, and Diego Sanchez to hit Capitol Hill, zip code by zip code, to cover the states of Ohio, Oregon, California and Massachusetts, respectively. They advocated effectively in the U.S. House and Senate, visiting federal legislative offices, meeting with staffers, and even getting direct greetings and exchanges with Oregon’s Sen. Wyden (by Henkel and Navetta) and Sen. Feinstein (by Navetta and Sanchez). Sen. Wyden provided a “Welcome, PFLAG” video for We Are the Change 2017 in Portland, OR in 2017.

This was preceded by a robust, lauded training on “How to Tell Your Story in Two Minutes” by Jean-Marie Navetta, PFLAG National’s Director of Learning and Inclusion that included not only learning on story arcs, but also featured exercises on constructing that two-minute story and to make it most effective.

This was followed by an overview by Diego Sanchez on federal and state legislative priority issues, strategies and messaging that PFLAG National is focused on for 2018. The federal policy priority at Creating Change for PFLAG National is Every Child Deserves a Family Read PFLAG National's handy one-page overview of this bill, especially designed for legislative visits. PFLAG National describes this bill introduced by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (GA-5) in the House and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) in the Senate as a child welfare issue, not a “right to adopt and foster” matter so that it has stronger likelihood to resonate as a truly non-partisan issue.

During the discussion on state-level legislative priority issues, Sanchez—peppered by well-informed PFLAG chapter members’ local legislative and administrative battles—centered on several key issues that occurs and will continue and expand in states:

  1. School safety. Remembering that Title IX is still the law of the land, that bullying continues to require focused attention, and that sports access is growing as a discrimination risk across school districts and within states. PFLAG chapter members raised the issue of interstate difference in school policies delivers people finding themselves welcome in one state’s school district but finding that they cannot access facilities when their sports team travels to a non-welcoming district or state.
  2. Protecting fair public accommodations access for LGBTQ youth and adults.Expanding the discussion of bathroom, locker room and sports participation to represent its full scope which is public accommodation. This includes restaurants, libraries as well as the standard discussion of bathrooms and locker rooms.
  3. License-to-discriminate efforts. The language in state bills that has included so-called religious liberty to allow individuals to discriminate because of their personal beliefs of faith is growing to include new language of “morality.” PFLAG National will be working through the Regional Directors Council to monitor and collect occurrences of state bills in this legislative session that include this newly expanded language as a pathway to expand discrimination. For youth at the state level, this includes bills regarding so-called conversion therapy. PFLAG National will step up efforts with states and chapters to focus on banning conversion therapy.

It was a great PFLAG day at Creating Change, which the entire staff enjoyed.