This PTA Raises More Than Bake Sale Money: It Raises Consciousness for GLBT Students
Written by: Wesley Davidson
Photo credit: David Pokress | Laurie Scheinman, who has been nominated as co-chairwoman of the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Student Association, with her daughter Rachael. (April 4, 2012)
The Parent Teacher’s Association has always prided itself for not only reaching out to families in their district, but also with mainstream parents in mind. Recently, with stronger anti-bullying measures needed in schools, as well as the contribution of gays incorporated into the curriculum, the nation’s first official gay PTA called Long Island Gay- Parent -Teacher Student- Association formed the week of April 23, 2012 in New York. source
They Saw A Need and Fulfilled It
The brainchild student, Rachel Scheinman, a senior at Portledge School in Locust Valley, New York and her mother, Laura Scheinman, 49, chartered a PTA that focuses on the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their families. Rachel, who identifies herself as lesbian, says “ there have been many instances where negative comments are said, and ignored for lack of a better strategy.” Comments her mother of Sands Point, New York, “while many of our schools are tolerant, they don’t have a system set up for any issues if they are to arise. The PTSA will kind of remove those barriers between parents and schools.” Gay-Straight Alliances of students will work at school districts with parents, teachers and anyone interested in equality advocacy for LGBT students or those raised by same-sex couples.
The More The Merrier
“The more people who are involved in the education of children, the better” stated Maria Fletcher, president of the New York State PTA, based in Albany. You don’t have to live in Garden City or even Long Island to join. Nor do you have to parent a gay child to be included. All you have to do is believe in the movement.
Although a similar parent-teacher-student group formed in 1999 in Seattle and later disbanded in 2004, the time is rife for a more inclusive effort such as Scheinman’s to combat GLBT harassment in schools. I suspect that this model program will catch on this country and endure.
*Wesley Davidson is co-authoring, with a psychiatrist, an advice book for straight parents of gay teens. Her blog on this topic can be found at http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com
Click here to read a previous post Wesley Davidson wrote for MKC on the topic of raising a gay teen.