PFLAG volunteer Lisa Salazar says there’s a need in South Surrey for PFLAG meetings. The meetings will be held every second Wednesday of the month at Sunnyside United Church from 7 to 9 p.m.

PFLAG to host meetings in South Surrey

PFLAG – formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – meetings will be held in the Sunnyside United Church.

Thirty years ago, few people were using the term ‘transgender.’

Lisa Salazar – a transgender woman living in South Surrey – first heard the word in 1990 when she was 40 years old.

“It was the first time I had a term and a description that actually resonated with me, my history and even how I felt as a child.”

Salazar made her transition in 2007 when she was 57.

A few years later she attended her first PFLAG Vancouver meeting.

PFLAG – formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – started 35 years ago in response to parents who had concerns with their child coming out as gay, bisexual or lesbian.

The organization is expanding south of the Fraser River. It will host meetings every second Wednesday of the month at Sunnyside United Church (15639 24 Ave.) from 7 to 9 p.m.

For many, it’s one of the first contacts parents make outside of their immediate family when a child comes out as gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender.

The majority of parents visiting PFLAG Vancouver are of transgender children, Salazar said.

GLAAD – a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media-advocacy organization – contracted a study in 2008 that revealed eight per cent of Americans know someone who is transgender.

The Human Rights Campaign revisited the study one year after U.S. Olympian Bruce Jenner publicly made the transition to Caitlyn Jenner. After Jenner’s transition in 2015, the study showed 35 per cent of Americans know or work with a transgender person.

“I think that’s thanks to Caitlyn Jenner,” Salazar said.

“What needs to be understood is that (it) just means people now know someone who is transgender. That knowledge does not translate into acceptance.”

Salazar said there’s an underserved segment of the population south of the Fraser River that want PFLAG meetings more locally.

“That is what I hear from parents,” she said.

One parent that expressed a need for PFLAG in the South Surrey community was Rev. Bruce McAndless-Davis, a minister at First United Church.

McAndless-Davis has been working with PFLAG to facilitate Sunnyside United Church as a rent-free meeting place.

“Lots of people, children and grandchildren are coming out. Whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. I have a teenager who’s trans, and it’s a steep learning curve to learn how to create a safe space for them but also just to be aware of ourselves as parents. To have a group like that that gathers to support us would be great,” McAndless-Davis noted.

McAndless-Davis said all three Peninsula United Churches have been working together since the spring to create a “third-space.”

The churches are currently searching for a suitable storefront property to lease as a gathering place for community groups, such as PFLAG.

McAndless-Davis said that PFLAG is a good first-step for the third-space initiative.

“I think all of us are becoming more aware of different ways in which we can be more inclusive in our communities. That doesn’t come naturally or easily. We need to help each other get educated and support each other emotionally. Absolutely it will definitely meet a need and we hope it helps make a more inclusive and generous community overall,” McAndless-Davis said.

Salazar said the meetings are held with strict confidentiality guidelines and work as a peer-to-peer support group.

She says the meetings have helped families get over the “taboo” factor.

“For many families, it’s what will our neighbours think? What will our relatives think? What will my co-workers think? How do I explain this to them that I have a gay, lesbian or transgender child?”

More information on PFLAG can be found at pflagcanada.ca

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP looking for missing teen

Dylan Peters, 17, has been missing since Wednesday

Seven years after daughter’s death, grieving mother issues new appeal for answers

Ashley Chauvin’s body was found near South Surrey’s Nicomekl River in July 2012

Friends of ‘Mac’ rally to fund young family left behind by former martial arts teacher in Surrey

‘He’s well loved,’ says operator of Fraser Heights academy where Mackenzie MacWilliams studied, worked

Police food drive to help feed North Delta kids

Donations collected will go support the Rotary Club’s Starfish Pack program

Surrey burglar loses appeal on Hook & Ladder break-in conviction

The case centred on a Jan. 3, 2016 break-in at the Newton pub

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Be wary of robot emotions; ‘simulated love is never love’

Research has shown that people have a tendency to project human traits onto robots

Two Vancouver police officers could face charges in crash that injured five: IIO

IIO BC requests consideration of charges against two Vancouver police officers driving two police vehicles

5 to start your day

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver released, woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR and more

One million recyclable bottles ‘lost’ daily in B.C., foundation says

387 million beverage containers didn’t make it back into the province’s regulated deposit refund system in 2017

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Most Read

l -->