PFLAG Connects online Support Circles
The world has gone on line. So has PFLAG Portland. Confidential, nonjudgmental, and hosted by trusted PFLAG Portland leaders, our online Support Circles - which we call PFLAG Connects - offer peer-to-peer emotional and educational support to LGBTQ folks, families, friends, and allies navigating their own or a loved one's coming out process - wherever you are, whenever you need support.
Whether you choose to participate by phone or by video+audio on your computer or mobile device, our online meetings will have the same safe, comforting sense of community and peer support as at our regular meetings.
Dates, Times, Audience
Our initial PFLAG Connects Circles will be offered twice a month. To join a meeting, you'll need to sign up by following the registration link posted in each meeting announcement in our email newsletters, on our Facebook page, and on our website. Our circles are for all, whether you're on the East Side, West Side, downtown, or from out of town. Our Circles can support breakout groups should the need arise.
As our experience with this new way of meeting grows we're looking forward to tailoring it to your needs. Please don't hesitate to let us know what you think; drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or complete the post-circle survey we send all registrants.
We use Zoom, a web-based easy-to-use video conferencing tool. You will need to download the Zoom Meetings app to participate. You can do this ahead of time, by visiting the app store for your digital device, or when you join the meeting. The Zoom app works on computers, cellphones, and tablets.
To help you get the most from our online Support Circles, read our PFLAGConnects Participant's Guide.
Joining a PFLAG Connects Support Circle
Our PFLAG Connects online circles function a little differently than our in-person support circles. For example, our in-person Support Circles are drop-in; to keep our online Circles safe, private and flowing smoothly, we require you to preregister and we don't allow late arrivals. But we know you'll want to arrive on time. For more on our safety protocols, read About Security and Privacy below.
Here's how to join a Circle:
Learn how to Circle online before you join the meeting by following the guidelines below.
Follow the registration link in our email newsletters, on our Facebook page, or on our website. Note: Always use the link provided in each Circle's event announcement. It's unique to that Circle.
Fill out and submit the e-registration form. If you're under 18, a parent or guardian must attend with you. Tip: include your pronouns in the Last Name box. Example: Chelsea Circler (them, they)
We'll send you an email with the meeting join link and optional dial-in instructions.
Save this email! It contains your ticket to the Circle.
We'll send you a reminder 30 minutes before the meeting...just in case your dog eats your ticket.
Join on-time. Better yet, join early. Ten minutes before Circle start time, the Waiting Room will open. At the scheduled start time, the host will begin admitting participants to the meeting room. Ten minutes after the Circle's starting time, the host will close the doors and no latecomers will be admitted.
If you have any questions, send us an email at email@example.com.
About Security and Privacy
We value confidentiality and safety in our Support Circles. It requires a bit more work to do this online, so that's why we employ a registration process. Now that we're in the new reality of COVID-19, people have rushed to reestablish their community connections online, without training and sometimes with surprising and scary results. Our online meetings development team is confident that we've designed in an appropriately high level of security into our meeting process to keep our Circles confidential. And we'll evaluate and adopt new security features as they become available. Here's what we do:
- screen all registrants against a master list. Our subscribers and members are on that list, and we encourage you to subscribe if you haven't already. It'll keep you better in touch, and as our process evolves will help us fine-tune our Circles to specific needs. We do not share your registration information with anyone.
- forbid direct Circle entry. The Host controls who enters the meeting room.
- distribute Circle join credentials separately from registration links.
- password-protect all Circles.
- close the Circle to further admissions shortly after its scheduled start.
- disable screen sharing by participants.
- do not record Circles in any way.
- carefully select our Circles Hosts and Co-Hosts from amongst PFLAG Portland leaders experienced in Support Circle facilitation, who we train to run our online circles.
- isolate or remove disruptive participants from the circle and prevent their registering for future circles.
We require of participants:
- that they be over 18 or that they attend with a parent or guardian
- that they hold confidential all that is said or seen within a Circle
- that they not record Circles in any way
- that they join Circles in a private space or with technological means of ensuring privacy
There are many videoconferencing tools on the market today. Most are designed for use by employees within organizations. PFLAG online Support Circles are public-facing events, open to all with the aforementioned screening. This narrows down the suitable tools to a very few. Our development team has chosen Zoom for its ease-of-use, its breadth of Host meeting controls, and its familiarity to participants. They have determined that although no online videoconferencing tool is absolutely secure, the security features of Zoom are appropriate for the needs of our Circles as used by our meeting design.