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      PFLAG support group forms in Tri-States

      Every parent has a good idea of how they want their son or daughter to grow up when they're born.

      Sometimes, life takes a different turn.

      PFLAG stands for parents and friends of lesbians and gays.

      It's a support group that's formed in the Tri-States to provide a network for area residents.

      "As a parents of a child who is gay, I saw a lot of heartbreaks as he grew up and was treated differently for it," PFLAG member Vicki Laack said. "I think PFLAG is a lifeline for parents and friends. It helps me. It helps my son, and I just think it's really, really important."

      Vicki Laack attends PFLAG meetings at the Unitarian Church in Quincy on the second Thursday of the month. PFLAG is a national organization that now has 500 chapters across the United States.

      "It was started by a mother who had a gay son and was tired of him being bullied, so she stood out on the street corner with a sign saying I love my gay son," PFLAG member Janet Allen said. "I think any time you can get together and talk about issues in your life, whatever is bothering you to know that someone else has been through what you're going through to make them more comfortable, make them more accepting."

      Allen helped start the Hannibal-Quincy PFLAG chapter.

      "The suicide rate for LGBT children is very high," she said. "There is a lot of bullying that goes on in the schools. We are here to help parents transition through this and become accepting of their child for who he or she is.//We are not professional counselors; however, if you have the need for a professional, we can make contacts for you. We do have resources."

      There are no dues to join. Allen said members of the group go on a first name only basis to help ensure confidentiality.

      "I know how it can be embarrassing if you're in this situation," Allen said. "Most of us have been there, so we do understand. We will not be judgmental. It can be devastating at times. Some parents totally reject their children, which is very sad. It's an adjustment. It's a journey. For some people, it's not. Some people are fine with it from the beginning. Any time you go through something, it's nice to have other people there who understand."

      The local PFLAG chapter meets on the second Thursday of every month at the Unitarian Church in Quincy.

      You can find more information by calling (573) 795-9821 or e-mailing