Toronto Pflag is a volunteer-run, registered charitable organization. Through support, education and advocacy, they work to create a more accepting society for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and their families, friends and allies.

Each week, we’ll be introducing you to another participating charity and we’ll share the challenges that they’re facing and the problems they’re hoping to solve at the hackathon.

Please click here to find resources related to the tech challenges faced by Toronto Pflag.

The concept of Pflag dates back to 1972, when a young man was attacked at a gay rights protest demonstration in New York. The man’s mother, Jeanne Manford, marched with her son in New York’s Pride Day parade that year, and was persuaded to begin a support group. Following the 1979 National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights, representatives from various support groups for parents with gay and lesbian children met for the first time in Washington, D.C.. In 1981, they launched a national Parents FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) organization. Today Pflag, which stands for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and similar organizations, operate in at least 17 countries around the world, including Canada.

Unfortunately, the LGBTQ community still faces discrimination. Toronto’s Pflag chapter is one of twenty-one in Ontario alone. Despite the rights of the LGBTQ community under Canadian law, bigotry, homophobia and ignorance remain impactful forces in our society. Beyond external forces and beliefs, the realization and awareness of being non-heterosexual can be challenging even with a support group. The Canadian chapter of Pflag, features video stories of people talking about their sexuality, gender identity and the journeys that have brought them to where they are today. The stories are a collection of diverse perspectives and experiences, both uplifting and sad, that go a long way in demonstrating the different challenges that members of the LGBTQ go through.

The “coming-out” process is a critical time for non-heterosexual individuals and their families. In some cases, when the adjustment process is particularly long or painful, relationships between family members, friends and colleagues can become permanently damaged – resulting in a lifetime of emotional scars. Pflag exists to support individuals and their families during this period of adjustment. Toronto Pflag’s monthly support meetings offer a warm and caring atmosphere for people and families to share their stories, hear about the experiences of others and grow their understanding of sexual and gender diversity. By sharing their journeys and the lessons they’ve learned, they help one another adjust to their changing circumstances and/or cope with adverse conditions.

As a volunteer-run organization, it’s a challenge for Toronto Pflag to find the resources necessary to develop new digital tools that could better serve their demographic in the LGBTQ community. Given the ubiquity of technology today, and the time we, as a society, spend on our smartphones and other digital devices, it is key for them to develop new ways of reaching and remaining in contact with the people that could benefit from their services and support.

As such, they are presenting the following challenges to participants of Gift the Code:

  1. Create a solution that improves our ability to find experienced parents to mentor parents whose children have just come out.
  2. Create an organizational tool that helps our volunteers efficiently and resourcefully manage their commitment to Pflag and the individuals seeking their support.
  3. Create a solution that removes barriers to reaching additional demographics.
  4. Create a solution that enables easy and anonymous interaction with Pflag.

Don’t forget to check back next Monday for a new post about one of the charities participating at Gift the Code. It will include a brief description of the charity and information about the challenges they’ll be bringing forward at Gift the Code!