SAN DIEGO – St. Paul’s Foundation is developing a program that will connect loving parents and friends of LGBT people in the U.S. with concerned parents and friends of LGBT people in countries where their children or friends could be arrested for simply being true to themselves.
It is illegal to be gay in 76 countries around the world, and the program will reach out to parents in nations where LGBT youth struggle for understanding and acceptance, including basic human rights.
The Foundation plans to launch a web-based program that will utilize Skype services to connect people across the globe.
“We are looking for volunteers in our community who would like to give support to these parents by answering questions about sexual orientation and how to support their LGBT children and friends,”
"Clearly there is a need for people who live in countries where LGBT people are stigmatized and criminalized to have conversations with relatives and friends who can share their stories," said the Rev. Albert Ogle, president of St. Paul’s Foundation.
Thanks to a small grant from the San Diego Pride Committee, St. Paul’s Foundation has bought computers and other materials needed for this effort. The Foundation will host the program at its offices at The Cathedral at St. Paul's.
“Some training in the PFLAG model will be required and there will be regular monthly support meetings for volunteers who decide to be part of this experimental program,” Ogle said.
"PFLG has been a lifeline to parents and friends in the USA and can relate to the important stages a family might go through when someone comes out as LGBT," Ogle said. "Not to have this resource in any other country is a great loss. So this is an experiment, and we are so grateful to PFLAG San Diego and SD Pride for helping us move into unchartered waters.
"The four-week training will introduce prospective volunteers to the work of the Foundation and some principles used over the years by PFLAG. The
training is over four Wednesdays and there is no commitment required beyond this initial training to do any more than attend. We will then work with each individual volunteer on their next steps."
Training sessions for volunteers
Members of the San Diego PFLAG will give a two-hour training session to volunteers on how to answer common questions.
The training dates will be Wednesdays, Feb. 20 and 27, and March 6 and 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
An introduction to the issues and work of St. Paul’s Foundation will be given at the first session in the Foundation’s office at the Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave., San Diego CA 92103.
Support sessions will be initially set up for connecting local volunteers with parents in Kenya, Uganda and India. The sessions will take place once or twice a month and will last one hour each session.
“We will be using the free computer conferencing programs Skype or FaceTime. With these software programs, our parents and friends can see as well as hear the parents abroad and vice versa. English will be spoken at all times,” Ogle said.
Because of time differences, the sessions will be scheduled in the morning or evening hours, most likely 8 to 9 am or 8 to 9 pm. Eventually participating parents could set up their own schedules once they have established rapport. The web-based sessions will probably begin in late March.
Linda Miles will be arranging the training session at the Cathedral for volunteers. She will also be scheduling the sessions, many of which will take place at the Foundation's Cathedral office. Her contact numbers: firstname.lastname@example.org; 615-251-4881 or 858-509-9173. Please contact Linda if you are interested in volunteering to help parents and friends abroad who want to support their LGBT children and friends.