The plug has been pulled on what might have been Utah’s newest chapter of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
In its Sept. 16 issue, QSaltLake reported that activist Turner Bitton and other Layton residents were in the process of forming a PFLAG chapter for that city. However, after the group’s president and vice president had a conversation with Kathy Godwin, president of Salt Lake City’s chapter, the three determined that the group was not needed at this time.
Godwin cited the closeness — and newness — of Ogden’s chapter as the reason she and Layton’s officers decided against it.
“My suggestion was that they work with Ogden’s chapter and then re-evaluate in a year to see if they could clearly support two chapters in that geographical location [Northern Utah],” she said, adding that Ogden’s had just completed its first year and was expecting to grow throughout its second.
Another problem with the would-be Latyon chapter, said Godwin, was its structure, which involved more youth than parents.
“I think what happened is that some excitement was created through youth in the area that PFLAG might be an answer to what is needed in Layton,” she continued. “So they gathered a bunch of youth, and the PFLAG model of course is that it’s youth and parents. Youth can be there, but we really do need someone to take responsibility for the chapter.” In areas, she said, like collecting dues, creating programming, and “supporting education and advocacy” on issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families.
“One of the things that we’re always struggling to do is get families into the picture to support their own family, and try and educate them,” she continued. “Youth are usually several steps ahead from where their parents are, unfortunately.”
In order to help youth and their families talk, Godwin said that she and other PFLAG members will be traveling into rural parts of Utah to help start this conversation between youth and families, and to help set up chapters in these areas. Rock Springs has just formed a chapter and currently, said Godwin, PFLAG is holding “safe space” meetings in St. George, Logan, Vernal and Provo for families with queer members to voice their feelings and concerns. Although few have been well-attended, Godwin calls these meetings a “baby step.”
“We feel we succeed if we get one family,” she said.
She added that PFLAG was not abandoning any plans for a future chapter in Layton, but merely waiting to see if such a chapter could be sustained.
Bitton, however, said he was dispirited at the chapter’s cancellation. He said that he received an e-mail from one of Layton’s officers that said he was “too young to worry about setting up a chapter” or to file paperwork.
When asked if he would be part of any future efforts to organize a Layton PFLAG chapter, he said no.