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Greenville Pair Organizes for PFLAG Chapter


by Lisa Ellison
Guardian editor

Deborah Thomson, the mother of a trans-identified middle school child, and long-time local LGBT activist Rich Elkins held an interest meeting April 9 for a Greenville-area chapter of PFLAG. The national organization was begun in 1972 to unite people who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or queer with family, their friends, and allies; to support them; to educate the broader community; and to advocate for equality. On April 9, Linda Stroupe, the South-Atlantic Regional Director of PFLAG, and PFLAG representatives from the Rocky Mount and Triangle chapters, joined 25 local participants at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville.

“When my child came out in middle school and was being bullied for being gay,” Thomson said in an email interview, “I asked our school what support Pitt County Schools offered to LGBT youth. The answer was, essentially, nothing. Our school’s guidance counselor directed me to ECU’s LGBT Resource Office, but supporting early adolescents is outside the scope of what they do. So, in short, I learned that there is no support structure for LGBT kids in this area.”

According to a press release put out by the organizers, someone suggested Thomson turn to PFLAG, but the closest chapters, Rocky Mount and Carteret/Craven, are both at least an hour away.

Thomson started exploring creating a local PFLAG chapter, and that’s when she came across an old Facebook page Elkins had created when he was trying to get a chapter started in 2012. Though his activity three years ago generated a large amount of interest, leadership roles were not filled.

Thomson and Elkins decided that now is the time to get that local chapter established.

After Thomson’s opening remarks to welcome the crowd and thank them for coming, those in attendance took turns introducing themselves. Comprised of LGBT people, their parents and friends, the majority of the group came from Pitt County, with a few from Beaufort County. At least one member of the group had been active with PFLAG, the chapter in Richmond, Va..

Stroupe, whose region consists of North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky, explained the history, purpose and mission of PFLAG to the group and detailed the procedures for starting a chapter. Rocky Mount and Triangle-chapter representatives talked about their chapters’ activities and all answered questions from participants.

Enough volunteers came forward to form the steering committee, which will meet in May, with the goal of having the first Greenville-chapter meeting in June.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville, officially designated in 2008 as a Welcoming Congregation by the UU Association of Congregations for their long-standing civil rights leadership, is donating meeting space to PFLAG. The facility features a large multi-purpose space with kitchen, video projection and sound system, and gender-neutral restrooms.

Organizers of the chapter in development can be reached by emailing

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Responses (3)

  1. Carol Clawson Williams says:

    I am so glad we finally have a PFLAG group here in Greenville! We are moving into the 21st Century! Slowly but surely.

  2. Jan Loftin says:

    I am so proud of my niece for doing this.

  3. Connie Link says:

    I am so happy other trans people are getting support in Greenville now!

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