Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel is all smiles as he receives a warm welcome at the latest Ames PFLAG meeting.

Voices of the LGBTQ community were heard Tuesday as the new leader of One Iowa listened to concerns over education.

Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director of the LGBTQ group, started his term in January. He is halfway through his 100-day plan, a main topic when he spoke to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). 

The Ames PFLAG is a small group consisting of fewer than 15 members who all meet once a month at the Youth and Shelter Services building to provide a safe space for people.

“We all came for the same reasons … to find the community and support we needed, and what we found are a bunch of folks who are nonjudgmental,” Cyndie Blythe, president of the Ames PFLAG, said.

Hoffman-Zinnel’s agenda for the meeting included an introduction about himself, policy changes, upcoming events and then asked what the PFLAG community hoped to see happen regarding One Iowa. 

The main topic Hoffman-Zinnel discussed was that he wants to be more heavily involved with the Iowa community and get its insight on what it would like to change. This resulted in heavy discussion with the members.

“I’ll continue trying to go to meetings and engage with members," Hoffman-Zinnel said. There is “definitely an opportunity for [PFLAG and One Iowa] to collaborate on things.”

A point that was brought up by PFLAG member Lorrie Hanson was that she wished to see more early education regarding the LGBT community.

“Teachers spend so much time with our kids and they see a lot of things maybe parents don’t want to see, refuse to see or just plain don’t see,” Hanson said.

Another PFLAG member, Alison Carleton, added on to Hanson’s argument on why there needs to be more early education.

“Early recognition of trans is really important ... catch those kids before puberty,” Carleton said.

The conversation on education eventually transitioned into politics.

Hoffman-Zinnel gave the metaphor of being a pipe cleaner to express how people should handle topics they do not necessarily believe in.

“You can bend, but you don’t break,” Hoffman-Zinnel said.  

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