First-Ever PTA for Gay Students Approved in Long Island

The country’s first Parent Teacher Association chapter dedicated to the needs of gay, lesbian and transgender students and their families was approved on Long Island last week.

The chapter, which was recognized by the national PTA on Thursday, will serve Long Island’s 127 school districts and plans to present organizers with its charter on Thursday.

“[It’s] a very large-scale community effort, bringing together parents, teachers, and students to deal with the issues affecting gay and lesbian youth,” said David Kilmnick, chief executive officer of the Long Island GLBT Services Network.

The group also aims to propose curriculum changes to include information about the GLBT civil rights movement and its leaders. It also stresses the importance of faculty awareness and competency when dealing with the needs of GLBT students and their families.

Kilmnick launched Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) in 1993 from his Levittown apartment.

Last fall, the newly formed Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Student Association (LI G-PTSA) began meeting biweekly in Garden City, where LIGALY had just opened its second community center.

Kilmnick says it was a way to add another level of support for gay youth by setting up gay-straight alliance clubs in every middle and high school.

"Gay and lesbian youth are bullied at higher levels than most other kids,” he said. “And many times schools are not equipped to deal with this type of bullying, or just turn their head and don't pay attention to it.”