Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

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Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Ownership type Public
Founded 1972
Headquarters Washington D.C. , United States

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) was founded in 1972. It is an interest group comprised of friends and family members that act in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered people.



Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) originated shortly after the 1972 Gay Pride Parade in New York, when Jeanne Manford decided to march alongside her gay son, Morty, carrying a sign that read “Parents of Gays, Support Our Children.” This act caught the attention of several other gay and lesbian marchers, who approached her to request that she speak to their own parents. From this experience, Manford decided to create a support group for other parents with gay or lesbian children. As Manford’s group gained exposure, similar support groups were established across the country. In 1979, representatives from these groups met in Washington D.C. “Parents For Lesbians and Gays” (P-FLAG) was formed.

Growth and National Exposure

In 1980, P-FLAG made its mark by distributing information to various sources across the nation. This expanded their influence to the point where they were mentioned in a "Dear Abby" advice column. Because of the sudden recognition, P-FLAG members decided to launch a national organization in 1981. The first office was established in Los Angeles under founding President Adele Starr. In 1982, the group was granted non-profit, tax-exempt status. In 1987, PFLAG relocated to Denver. In 1993, PFLAG, now operating from Washington DC, added “Families” to its name and expanded its mission statement to include bisexuals. In 1998, trans-gendered people were added as well.

Current objectives and activities

Objectives and Beliefs

PFLAG has taken stances on several issues that are important to the LGBT community, such as:

  • Marriage Equality: PFLAG believes that the government should be prohibited from passing laws related to marriage.
  • Adoption: PFLAG feels that LGBT people should not be denied the right to become parents, and should legally be allowed to adopt in any state.
  • The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell): PFLAG believes that this law is unfairly responsible for the discharges of qualified LGBT members of the armed forces, and should be abolished.
  • Workplace Fairness: PFLAG is in favor of an extension of anti-discrimination policies, claiming that members of the LGBT community in the workplace are unfairly denied domestic partnership benefits
  • Reparative Therapy: PFLAG is strongly against the notion that individuals are allowed to “choose” their sexual or gender orientation, and thus feel that it is wrong for anyone to attempt to “repair” or “change” someone else’s.
  • Hate Crimes: PFLAG is in favor of expanding hate-crime legislation to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.
  • Safe Schools: PFLAG wants school districts to extend anti-bullying policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity.


PFLAG has also started several programs to help their cause. “Stay Close” was started in 2006 in an effort to encourage friends and families of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered people to pledge their support. Other nationally coordinated programs include “From Our House to the School House,” “The Diversity Network,” “Bringing the Message Home,” and “Welcoming Faith Communities.”

Organizational Structure


PLFAG is organized into chapters that extend to over 500 communities. These communities are then divided into 14 regions across the United States of America. Every region in PFLAG then elects its own "Regional Director" to represent it. PFLAG is run by a 21 member "Board of Directors."


Affiliation with PFLAG largely depends on the size of the group. a Representative is a person of a family member working with PFLAG. Two more more individuals working with PFLAG constitutes a Chapter, and State Councils are a statewide organization of PFLAG chapters, representatives, and at-large members.


Throughout the 1980s, PFLAG was actively involved in opposing Anita Bryant’s anti-gay, “Save Our Children” crusade, in which Bryant argued that homosexual parents would influence the sexuality of the children they adopted. They also fought the U.S. Military’s agenda to discharge lesbians. In the early 1990s, a chapter in Massachusetts worked to pass the first “Safe Schools” legistlation in the country. One PFLAG family is credited for having influenced a ruling by the Department of Education that Title 9 protected gay and lesbian students from harassment based on sexual orientation.

Public perception and controversies

The mid 1990’s “Project Open Mind” created controversy with advertisements that included anti-LGBT quotes from several people. Pat Robertson, an outspoken televangelist, threatened legal action against television stations that aired these ads, as he had been quoted for one of them. The case garnered national media attention.