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Gay PTA group meets for first time

Christine Cryjak, right, of West Babylon, with her

Christine Cryjak, right, of West Babylon, with her sixteen year old daughter Cat. Christine will be the Suffolk County chair of the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Association. (Oct. 27, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

About 40 people attended Wednesday night’s inaugural meeting of the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Association in Garden City to learn about the group’s mission of making schools safer for LGBT students.

Under the auspices of Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, which provides education, advocacy and support for young people and young adults, the LI Gay PTA has a fourfold mission: push for curriculum to include information about LGBT historical figures, events and movements; establish gay-straight alliance clubs in all middle and high schools on Long Island; provide diversity training for parents and teachers; and develop a support network for parents.

“A PTA’s main goal is so that every child can reach its full potential,” said David Kilmnick, chief executive of the Long Island GLBT Services Network, which is a union of five GLBT-oriented groups including LIGALY. “Many of you have said, ‘Enough is enough. We need to address the issues that are blocking our kids from their true potential.’”

The group is in the process of forming committees to focus on membership and support, outreach and education, and curriculum. As the group grows, a legislation and policy committee will be added, Kilmnick said.

Immediate plans are to attend a board of education meeting to push for a gay-straight alliance in a Nassau County district where a student petition to create the club has been stalled.

The LI Gay PTA had faced criticism that it is using the name PTA without being a state-chartered member of the organization. Kilmnick said he is meeting Monday with the president of the state PTA association to talk about getting a state charter.

Above, Christine Cryjak, right, of West Babylon, with her 16-year-old daughter, Cat. Christine Cryjak will be the Suffolk County chair of the Long Island Gay Parent Teacher Association.

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