Gay alternative group hopes to establish local chapter


Community group Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) hopes to re-establish itself in DeKalb County by the end of the school year.

PFLAG’s mission consists of three parts: support, education and advocacy, said National PFLAG President Jon Cepek.

Support is found by forming community groups and offering safe and comfortable channels of discussion that would otherwise not exist. Education seeks to remove some of the ignorance and the plight felt by the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT) people throughout the community.

By gaining advocacy, PFLAG hopes to prompt communities and their members to speak up about favorable LGBT opportunities, and speak out against practices that are unfavorable to them, Cepek said.

The previous DeKalb County chapter was recognized by the national chapter and has left a lasting mark on the community. In memory of Howard and Millie Eychaner, the former leaders of the previous PFLAG group, an award presented annually is known as an Eychaner.

The award is sponsored by the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and PRISM to honor students and faculty efforts in advocacy and awareness work that has been done for the LGBT community, said Patricia Liberty-Baczek, PFLAG DeKalb County chapter president.

“In rural areas, by their very nature, people are separated; nothing beats two or more people getting together in a room and talking about their lives,” Cepek said.

The group hopes to hold meetings, offer speakers, provide literature, as well as offer a local Web site once formally recognized by the national chapter.

“Meet new friends, rather than thinking you’re out here on your own in little old DeKalb County,” said Liberty-Baczek.

The group hopes to hold its meetings at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 158 N. Fourth St.

“As a denomination we support and except the full integration of LGBT people in our congregation,” said the Rev. Linda Slabon. “We would be delighted to have them.”

The church has a facilities management team that makes sure groups who want to use the church’s space fit its principles and purpose, said Slabon.

Nationally, PFLAG’s plans for the future include devolving a new group, Straight For Equality.

The group feels there is a moral responsibility for all straight people to speak up and protect LGBT people, and give them equal rights: nothing more, nothing less, Cepek said.

“If any group is discriminated against, then every group is at risk of being discriminated against,” Cepek said.