The idea for PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her son, Monty, in the precursor to today’s Pride parade. After many gay and lesbian youths ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group, and the first PFLAG meeting was held on March 11, 1973.
By 1980, PFLAG was distributing information to educational institutions and faith communities nationwide, establishing itself as a source of information for the general public. When “Dear Abby” mentioned PFLAG in one of her advice columns, we received more than 7,000 letters from families requesting information.
In 1990, PFLAG’s president sent a letter to Barbara Bush asking for Mrs. Bush’s support. The first lady’s personal reply stated, “I firmly believe that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals or groups in our country. Such treatment always brings with it pain and perpetuates intolerance.”
In 2014, the organization officially changed its name, removing the acronym, henceforth to be known simply as PFLAG. This change was made to accurately reflect PFLAG members, those PFLAG serves, and the inclusive work PFLAG had been doing for decades.
Today, the gold-standard advocated by PFLAG parents and families—and set forth by pediatricians and therapists—is to support and accept LGBTQ+ people’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Supporting LGBTQ+ individuals one at a time by supporting the parents, families and friends who love and care about them.
One interaction at a time. One family at a time. We firmly believe the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals depends on it. It is impossible to overstate the impact of one parent or family member seeking support and education for themselves, and offering love and acceptance to their LGBTQ+ loved one.
Today, PFLAG’s local and statewide work to end discredited “conversion” therapies has been highly successful. We continue to build on that success.
In 1973, schools expelled and punished LGBTQ+ students, turning a blind eye to bullying, discrimination, and harassment.
Today, PFLAG parents continue to successfully advocate for the right to a fair and safe education for their LGBTQ+ children and youth. In fact, many school systems are pro-actively following PFLAG best practices for serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-binary students, and often engaging chapters to provide training for teachers, administrators, and district leaders.
In 1973, marriage equality was unimaginable. In 2015, PFLAG leaders provided critical leverage for local, statewide and national wins on marriage, including a friend of the court brief to the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case that won the nationwide freedom to marry.
In 1973, hotels, health clinics, and shopkeepers regularly refused service to LGBTQ+ people. In 2018, PFLAG parent Debra Munn and her son Charlie took their case all the way to the Supreme Court in Charlie Craig v Masterpiece Cakeshop. On the steps of the Supreme Court, Debra said: “PFLAG saved our family 15 years ago. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
In a culture steeped in denial about massive inequalities and the depression and hopelessness they engender, PFLAG creates tiny moments of truth and hope among people whose love for their LGBTQ family members and friends sometimes comes into conflict with established authorities in their lives—whether it be religious institutions, employers, or government actors including police, courts, or family services, educators, coaches, doctors, or extended family.
These moments of honesty, grief, acceptance, and love propel PFLAGers through seemingly impossible dilemmas and family fractures.
We cannot estimate the number of LGBTQ+ lives that have been saved through these exchanges in PFLAG meetings; we cannot count the legions of community leaders that have sprung into action. But just as our founder, Jeanne Manford and her family knew 45 years ago, we know that the lives saved number in the tens of thousands. We know that seemingly “small” interactions catalyze monumental changes in our families, lives, communities, and institutions over time.
PFLAG love and acceptance saves LGBTQ+ lives.
PFLAG families grow resilient and empowered LGBTQ+ children.
PFLAG groups heal and reconnect LGBTQ+ families.
PFLAG passion empowers life-long parent, family and allied leaders
in the struggle for justice and equality.