Spearfish residents formed a chapter of PFLAG—Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays—in 2014. When the Sioux Falls chapter folded in 2015, that left PFLAG Spearfish as the only active chapter in the state.
But those Spearfish advocates will soon have company in the Spearfish of the East, Brookings:
The Brookings chapter met Saturday morning at Ascension Lutheran Church to continue work on its bylaws, in preparation for a kickoff event at the Brookings Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28.
Committee members present were the Rev. Teri Johnson, president and chair; Trevor Clements, vice president; Sandy Olson, secretary; Lawrence Novotny, treasurer; the Rev. Larry Ort, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; and the Rev. Michael Mortvedt. A seventh member, Ruth Harper, was absent.
“We’re hoping to be a catalyst, a support group,” Johnson, pastor of United Church of Christ and a professor at South Dakota State University, said. “One of the critical pieces of PFLAG is that it’s not a political organization, not a religious organization. It’s a support group for families, allies and friends [John Kubal, “LGBTQ Support Groups Forming in Brookings,” Brookings Register, 2017.09.15].
Aside from a certain angry blog and a few other regressive elements, Brookings is a pretty good town for tolerance and diversity. The home of South Dakota’s biggest and best university scored 50 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index, the best score in the state. PFLAG Spearfish labors under an MEI of 21:
The Brookings City Council renewed its commitment to “inclusion, respect, tolerance, equality and justice” for all residents last February by passing Resolution 17-022., which called for, among other things, “reporting, tracking, and responding to hate and bias-motivated activities in Brookings.” PFLAG Brookings organizers say Brookings does a fair job of living up to its inclusive principles:
There was a consensus among the chapter members that Brookings is a caring and inclusive community.
“We’re very lucky to have Brookings. Brookings is an incredible, incredible community,” Clements, assistant manager at Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge, said. “I don’t think me being a gay man raising two children would have the support network in another community [Kubal, 2017.09.15].
Kubal reports that PFLAG Brookings wants to focus on offering “(1) support, to cope with an adverse society; (2) education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and (3) advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.”