Societal constructs attempted to force her into a male role (which she was assigned at birth), but the truth was imminent and obviously clear. Bullied and battered for the duration of some very turbulent teenage years, Alaiyia left school at age 16, a few months after starting her transition into the woman we know today.
PFLAG’s role was simple, but timely. We assisted her with her college education, helped her remove her mask and voila! Meet our very own transgender Steel Magnolia 2.0 living an unmasked and authentic life. Now a licensed clinical social worker, she provides therapy for others.
We hit a milestone when we awarded our 500th scholarship. Thus, we began an alumni outreach effort to see what yellow brick roads it took Alaiyia and our other scholars down. We think you’ll agree they are amazing tales of unmasked resilience and authenticity.
Students like Alaiyia encounter PFLAG at the precise time they need us. With our financial and emotional support, they have become seen, sane, and successful adults. And now they are telling their stories. Their starting point may have been shaky, but their evolving tales are anything but!
Yet, each year, applications arrive that will hurt your heart.. There are 50 new ones with stories yet untold. These are frightened students, still having to mask. Bullied and battered, they often turn to drugs and alcohol. A recent survey found that 42% of America’s LGBTQ youth have considered suicide.
New Orleans still suffers from the strong southern conservative traditions that create hostile environments for LGBTQ students. The climate for our young students is more challenging than other metropolitan cities. Our mission is to make certain we can always be there for these students. Together, we remove their masks and boost them into an authentic adulthood.
So, visit PFLAG New Orleans right now to meet five who unmasked and made it and 50 who hope to.