Response is proud to host a special event, “Parent & Family Connection for LGBTQ Jews in Chicagoland,” on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. This is a conversation for any parent, family member or community member who has a connection to an LGBTQ youth at any stage of the “coming out” process, and a welcoming environment to connect with other Jewish families with LGBTQ children. The evening will also include a short program to share practical knowledge on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
In the spirit of teaching tolerance and anti-bullying, Response, a program of Jewish Child & Family Services that works to empower teens to make healthy life choices, is now a designated LBGTQ “Safe Space.” Creating a “Safe Space” means making a space that is inclusive of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Supported by the Lillian and Maurice Lipsey Foundation, Response partnered with Keshet, a Boston based organization that supports Jews who identify as LBGTQ (no connection to the locally based Keshet that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities) to host an event and screening of the film “Hineini: Coming out in a Jewish High School,” in June 2011. The screening was part of a larger program that included training Response staff, the Lay Response Council, youth, and JCFS staff in LGBTQ awareness and the Hineini Curriculum.
Keshet was so impressed with the work of Response that they invited them to be their partner in Chicago to pilot the Parent and Family Connections program. “Being able to not only connect around life experiences, but also around cultural and religious practices, provides a particularly supportive environment” says Sarah Casper, Outreach Coordinator at Response. “By partnering with Keshet, we get the benefit of their expertise in this area, to hopefully expand our “safe space” programs to include and support families of LBGTQ identified Jews in the Chicagoland area.”
While not specifically designed for this purpose, this event coincides with October Bullying Awareness and Prevention Month. About one fourth of all students from elementary age through high school are the victims of bullying and harassment while on school property because of their race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation, according to the web site, bullyingstatistics.org. This compares to nine out of 10 LGBTQ teens who report being bullied because of their sexual orientation.
The Parent & Family Connection for LGBTQ Jews in Chicagoland will be held at the Response offices at 9304 Skokie Blvd., in Skokie, Ill. Interested parties should respond to Sarah Casper at email@example.com or call 224-625-2906.
Response is a program of Jewish Child & Family Services, a partner in serving our community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation.