Participants' Guide

Participants' Guide


Meeting online blends time-tested practices with some new skills. Here are some things we've found that get the most out of your online experience.

Remember that meeting online is a very different experience from meeting in-person. It's fun, but it also takes a lot of concentration. Take breaks if you need to, and recognize when others might be tiring.


We're all here to support each other.

A PFLAG Connects online Support Circle is still a PFLAG Support Circle, with time-tested practices that we all follow.

We respect the confidentiality of the Circle. PFLAG does not record the meeting in any form, divulge the identity of participants, or share anything from it with others. We require that you do the same.

We are allies. We are patient and kind. We support - we don't judge, confront, or interrogate.

We respect others' gender identity. We don't assume pronouns. We state ours and ask others'.

We share thoughtfully. We create space for others to share.

We listen carefully, respecting the experience of others.

We speak from our own experience. We share our own stories, not someone else's.

Know Your Meeting Tools

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.

Watch this video to understand how Zoom works on your digital device.


Be a Support Circles Superstar

Online meetings are more fun and effective when you use your best online meeting skills.

Use a device with a large screen - a computer or tablet. You can't see everyone at the same time on a cellphone.

Use headphones and a good microphone. Better yet, find a private place.


Keep your video on unless you're taking a break. 60% of conversation is visual.

Keep your microphone muted except to speak. If you're on a computer, use the spacebar to temporarily unmute yourself.

Join early and test your audio and video while you're waiting. You can join 10 minutes before the meeting begins.

Do use 1:1 chat (in-meeting text messaging) to talk with the Host or Co-Host, or to propose questions to share with the circle.

Don't use chat to hold side conversations, or to distract the circle from a speaker.


Do use 1:1 chat for quick asides between participants if it will help someone without disturbing the flow of conversation.


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

About Zoom

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.