SALISBURY, N.C. — The Salisbury-Rowan chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) received the PFLAG National Chapter Award for Advocacy recently at the organization’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.

Local leader Pete Bonneau, a Food Lion executive and member of the PFLAG National Board.

Pete Bonneau, a Food Lion executive and member of the PFLAG National Board of Directors, accepted the award on behalf of the local chapter. The award recognizes a chapter’s contributions in the area of advocacy, one part of PFLAG’s threefold mission of support, education and advocacy. During the presentation, the chapter was cited for its successful scholarship program, having awarded 15 separate $1,000 scholarships to Rowan County LGBT students and/or their straight allies, as well as having produced Salisbury’s first LGBT Pride celebration as primary considerations for the award.

“We are excited, and at the same time, humbled to receive this award”, said Mike Clawson, president of the local chapter. “With so many PFLAG chapters across the country doing such incredible work in the areas of support, education and advocacy, we are honored to be recognized in this way. I’d like to thank our Executive Committee, our membership, supporters and benefactors for their continued commitment to PFLAG’s mission and vision.”

Members of PFLAG chapters from across the country traveled to the nation’s capital for the 2011 PFLAG National Convention. The activities during the four-day event included lobbying members of the U.S. House and Senate to support and advance the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Students Non-Discrimination Act, federal legislation that will help build safer schools for their LGBT loved ones.

In addition to a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill, PFLAGers from around the country enjoyed networking and attending workshops and plenary sessions on a wide array of topics, including building safer schools, fundraising strategies, dialoguing about LGBT people in faith communities, and more. Speakers and guests for the convention included Betty DeGeneres (mother of comedienne Ellen DeGeneres), who received the Betty DeGeneres Advocate Award and talked about her work as a straight ally and her life as a mom to a lesbian daughter, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts’ U.S. Rep. Barney Frank and Caitlyn Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project.

“I am extremely proud of the many accomplishments of the Salisbury-Rowan PFLAG chapter” said Linda Stroupe, PFLAG South Atlantic regional director. “With over 300 chapters nationwide, the receipt of the Advocacy Award is a tremendous honor. I am so thankful for the many successes of this chapter.”

PFLAG was founded in 1973 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son and is the nation’s foremost family orientated ally organization. PFLAG is committed to securing full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by providing support, education and advocacy. PFLAG National has grown to include more than 200,000 members and supporters in more than 350 chapters throughout the United States.

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— Compiled from release