News - 26 November 2007 Civic Reception for Manchester Parents Group 21st anniversary Manchester Parents Group officially celebrated it’s 21st Anniversary on November 24th 2007 with a Civic Reception at the city’s magnificent Victorian Town Hall. The event was hosted by The Lord Mayor of Manchester and the Lady Mayoress and celebrated the many years of support the group has provide for parents and family members of LGB people. On arrival the many guests were given a warm welcome and gathered in the ante room for drinks after which we were escorted into the very grand Reception Hall by the Lord Mayor’s Master of Ceremonies. Then began the formal proceedings. The Lord Mayor gave a welcome speech and thanked everyone for attending. The following are some extracts from his speech. “Manchester Parents Group was set up to challenge the misunderstanding and fear surrounding the ‘coming out’ process and to help people come to terms with the decision of a friend or family member to announce that they were lesbian, gay or bisexual. Manchester City Council is tremendously proud of the success of all our diverse communities, and in particular our lesbian and gay communities, who often contribute so well to our strong cultural, friendly and bohemian identity as a City. The City Council is rightly proud to celebrate the success of our family members and friends of lesbian and gay people, who have supported the brave decisions to ‘come out’ and lead a proud and positive life in Manchester. We all appreciate the importance of strong parenthood in our lives and the support our sons and daughters require from us. Manchester Parents Group represents the scaffolding beneath this concept of strong parenthood and we applaud the contribution the group has played in so many people’s lives. Today we recognise and celebrate all of your achievements, the spirit of Manchester, and the spirit of our vibrant gay community. Thank you and good luck with the next 21 years!” Laurie Wright then responded on behalf of Manchester Parents Group. He thanked the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for hosting the reception and Manchester City Council for all the help and support they have given the group over the years. He also thanked the many parents, family members and friends for attending the celebration He then invited Cath Johnson (formerly Hall), the only remaining founder of Manchester Parents Group, to say a few words. Cath spoke movingly about the beginnings of Manchester Parents Group in 1986 and how three mothers of gay sons, Joyce, Joan and herself met while helping at Manchester Gay Youth Group. The young people often asked for help “coming out” to their parents and it soon became evident there was a need for a support group for parents of gay children. So they worked tirelessly and against all odds to set up the group that was to be Manchester Parents Group, the first such group in the UK. Cath said, “Brenda Oakes took over the group when I became involved in setting up The Albert Kennedy Trust to help homeless gay young people and Joyce became ill and unable to attend the meetings. She continued her inspirational leadership until her retirement in 2002 “ Cath stressed how difficult and different things were in the early days and just how much progress has been made to improve the lives of gay young people and their families over the years. She thanked all the parents who have worked so hard to make this happen. The last speaker was Councillor Paul Fairweather who spoke in support of the group. Paul is a long time friend of Manchester Parents Group and remembered fondly the group in the early days when he was a young man campaigning for gay rights in Manchester. He recalled Manchester Parents Group involvement in campaigning and in particular the Rally in Albert Square against Section 28 when Joyce received rapturous applause from 20,000 people when she announced “ I am the proud mother of a gay son” He also remembered our meeting with Baroness Young at the House of Lords re equal age of consent which was organised by Brenda and the many protest rallies we have taken part in. He said that sadly both Joyce and Joan passed away in 2006 and it was fitting that we should remember them and pay tribute to them during our celebration. He finished by saying how much better life is for young gay people today than when he was growing up and he thanked Manchester Parents Group for the part they played in bringing this about. Bouquets of flowers were then presented to Cath and Brenda in recognition of all their hard work. I was very touched, and somewhat taken aback, to also receive a bouquet as a belated 70th birthday present.! This concluded the official part of the event and we were then free to relax, partake of more drinks, and enjoy a delicious buffet meal whilst talking to our many friends. What a fantastic end to a year of celebration for Manchester Parents Group. News - 21 October 2007 Student Pride June 16 2007. The third National Student Pride took place at Manchester University with students from throughout the UK attending. on behalf of Manchester Parents Group Christine and Lois had an information stall. Gaydio August 23 2007. Inga and Christine were interviewed by Brian Day about our group and the work we do. Members of Manchester Parents Group have been interviewed twice on Gaydio and on both occasions the experience was very positive and helpful. It was a good opportunity to promote our organisation and the work we do to the wider LGBT community, and to disseminate information to enable people to access our services more readily. Manchester Pride Parade. August 25 2007. The year 2007 is a very special year for Manchester Parents Group This year we are proud to be celebrating 21 years supporting parents of lesbian, gay and bisexual sons/daughters. As part of our celebrations we had a 21st birthday party float in the Manchester Pride Parade and what a great time we had! The atmosphere was amazing and the reception we received from the crowd was unbelievable. We enjoyed every minute, and we danced til we were fit to drop!! We had every good reason to celebrate. Great progress has been made with regard to equality for lesbian and gay people in the last few years, and we feel privileged to have been able to work towards this for the last 21years. All the hard work has paid off. Don’t let’s forget though, there is still work to be done to improve the lives of lesbian and gay people and their families. Manchester Pride Lifestyle Expo August 25-27 2007. Once again we had an information stand in Manchester's gay village over the Bank Holiday weekend. We had a steady stream of people with various issues coming to us for help and advice. This left us with no doubt in our minds that our organisation is still very much needed, so we intend to continue our work, maybe not for another 21 years, but for some time to come! Government publishes new guidance to help schools tackle homophobic Bullying September 21 2007. Stonewall welcomes today’s publication by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) of groundbreaking new guidance for teachers: ‘Preventing and Responding to Homophobic Bullying in Schools’ . The pioneering guidance, commissioned from Stonewall by the DCSF, provides school governors, heads, teachers and other staff with practical information - including lesson plans - about how to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying. The School Report, Stonewall’s recently-published research into homophobic bullying in Britain’s secondary schools, demonstrated that almost two thirds of young gay people have experienced homophobic bullying. Ninety seven per cent of gay pupils regularly hear homophobic insults at school; three in ten of the 1100 young people surveyed said that it was adults in schools who carry out the bullying. Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, said: “Homophobic insults should be viewed as seriously as racism. Even casual use of homophobic language in schools can create an atmosphere that isolates young people and can be the forerunner of more serious forms of bullying.” Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: “Stonewall is proud to have been commissioned by the DCSF to produce this guidance. The life chances of children bullied at school are often permanently diminished. This tool represents an essential and much welcome step forward in the development of joined-up thinking that will help schools and teachers address all forms of bullying effectively.” Harriet Harman MP, Secretary of State for Equality, said: “Homophobic bullying creates an ugly climate of intimidation and makes it harder for young people to come out. Teachers at schools can tackle homophobic bullying and this guidance will help them.” News - 20 June 2007 Samaritans AGM March 26 2007. As the parent of a gay son Christine was invited to be guest speaker at the AGM at the Bury branch of the Samaritans. She spoke about how a family can be affected emotionally and how it might respond when a son or daughter "comes out" The talk was received with interest and followed by in depth questions and some very interesting conversations. A copy of the talk was left for future training purposes along with information about MPG and FFLAG Home Office Conference May 10 2007. Over 200 delegates from a range of public sector and voluntary organisations throughout the country attended the Home Office sponsored Spectrum “Invisibility” LGBT conference in Manchester Dave and Laurie facilitated two FFLAG workshops during the day which were well attended by over 30 delegates. In addition to explaining the history and purpose of FFLAG and MPG, they told “their own” stories and using information supplied by GIRES gave the delegates some insight into the issues faced by family members of transgendered people. They were grateful for Christine’s input, particularly on religious issues, when she attended one of the workshops as a delegate. Exceeding Expectations Launch May 17 2007. Lois attended the launch of Exceeding Expectations which is a multi agency partnership between Manchester City Council Childrens Services, The Lesbian and Gay Foundation, Manchester Healthy School Partnerships, Albert Kennedy Trust and Hope Theatre Company to combat homophobia and homophobic bullying in Manchester Schools. The event took place at Manchester Town Hall. There were guest speakers and an excerpt from a piece of theatre in Education drama. The project will take place over the next three years. Latest News - 1 March 2007 Christmas party and presentation to Brenda Oakes Dec 2006. We had our usual Christmas Get Together and buffet for families and friends at Taurus. This year it was an extra special celebration. Sue Allen (chair of FFLAG trustees) and her husband Bob came up from Bristol to welcome Brenda Oakes as newly appointed Vice President of FFLAG. They presented Brenda with a certificate and thanked her for all her hard work in the past for MPG and FFLAG. It was a very pleasant and enjoyable afternoon. Tackling prejudice related bullying Jan 26 2007. Christine and Inga attended the above seminar organised by NASUWT ( National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers) at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester The main speakers were: Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary Simon Lee, Senior Education Officer, Stonewall Dr Emma Halliwell, School of Psychology, University of the West of England Sue Tabner, Outreach Co-ordinator, Childline North West Francine Bower Regional Co-ordinator (North) National Autistic Society Anusha Kesavanathan, Young Person Co-ordinator, Philip Lawrence Awards The panel introductions were followed by a lively debate, discussions and questions. After lunch there were three workshops: Tackling homophobic bullying in schools and colleges in to which we had a good input. Tackling disability related bullying in scools and colleges Tackling bullying on the grounds of body image in schools and colleges. It was an interesting day and lots of useful contacts were made. Presentation at Icebreakers meeting Feb 21 2007. Icebreakers is a group for gay and bisexual men who are "coming out" or who are new to Manchester. Sue and Dave were invited to one of their meetings to give a talk about issues faced by parents of gay children and the workof Manchester Parents Group.The presentation was favourably received by the 30 or so gay men aged between 18 and 50 plus who attended the meeting Radio Programme Feb 27th 2007 Inga was interviewed on Gaydio, a Manchester based gay radio station, about her experiences as the mother of a gay son and Manchester Parents Group. News - 4 March 2007 Manchester Pride 2006 August 18-28. Once again Manchester Pride was a 10 day programme of gay culture, community, heritage and sporting events culminating in the Big Weekend over the Aug Bank Holiday. The biggest parade ever in the history of Manchester Pride took place on Saturday Aug 26th and Manchester Parents Group had a birthday celebration float for our 20th anniversary. Unfortunately, the clutch failed and our lorry ground to a halt shortly after the start of the parade. This was somewhat of an anticlimax!. However, not to be daunted, we walked the rest of the way carrying our banner. We hope to celebrate our 21st birthday next year in greater style! We also had an information stall in the Lifestyle Expo in the gay village over the three days of the Aug Bank Holiday and made good use of our new display board. Two radio interviews. September 11 2006. Christine was interviewed on G M Radio about her comments to parents whose son/daughter might just have "come out" and on September 13th on the work of Manchester Parents Group. As a follow up to these two programmes Christine wrote to GM Radio enclosing a photo of our Pride float and telling them about our 20th anniversary. Launch of "Stand Up for Us" October 10. 2006 The launch of the Department for Education and Skills Healthy Schools resource "Stand Up For Us- challenging homophobia in schools" took place at Bury Teachers Centre. The event organised by the Bury Anti Homophobic Bullying Group was very well received by the fifty or so teachers and school nurses who attended from schools across the Borough. FFLAG and MPG materials attracted a considerable amount of attention, resulting in several interesting conversations and rapidly diminishing stocks of booklets and leaflets! It was a very rewarding event "Coming Out" workshop Oct 17 2006. Sue, Dave, Nicki, and Laurie gave a presentation about Manchester Parents Group and the services we offer to young people and their parents at the above workshop at Salford University. Also taking part were members of Icebreakers a social group for people "coming out" Romeo & Julian, Rosemary and Juliet October 30 2006. Margaret and Inga attended a performance of the above play at Lowton Civic Hall. It was delivered by young LGBT people from across Wigan with direction from Hope Theatre Company. The theatrical performance was a clever adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and was both challenging and very thought provoking. It explored the issues of homophobia as faced by young people by families and peers. Alongside this another youth project delivered a piece covering all areas of Hate Crime, demonstrating their understanding of the issues and offering the audience recommendations for action. Prison Carers Group Open Day November 8 2006. Inga had an information stall at Risley Prison Carers Group day which was organised for prison staff. Everyone was friendly and very interested in our information which was taken for display around the prison. It proved to be a worthwhile day with many interesting conversations and discussions. Invisible Boundaries- Addressing Sexualities in Children's Worlds November 10 2006. Christine and Inga attended the above seminar at Manchester University. The purpose of the seminar was to bring together researchers, practitioners, policy makers, young people to discuss how LGBT issues impact on children and families within and beyond school. Rathbone Training Day November 30 2006. MPG and FFLAG were represented at a Rathbone Training Day in Bury. Rathbone works closely with Connexions in secondary schools. Attendees were very interested in the work we do, especially in the area of homophobic bullying. Leaflets, booklets and other information were very much appreciated.