AFTA’s Position on Gun Violence

In December, 2012, a young man armed with an assault rifle walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and fatally shot 20 young children, six adults, and himself.

In June of 2015, 9 African Americans were shot to death by a white supremacist during a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, North Carolina.

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AFTA Opposes Ending Temporary Protected Status

AFTA is opposed to the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) previously granted to more than 300,000 Central Americans who have made the United States their home over several decades. This decision will surely result in the trauma of forced separation for countless families and the needless destruction of thriving communities across the country.

The United States Congress established TPS in 1990, offering protection to those foreign nationals that had fled dangerous conditions resulting from armed conflict and/or “natural” disaster.  With the rescinding of TPS, individuals who, upon immigrating to the United States have become homeowners, opened businesses, actively participated in their communities and nurtured their American-born children will be subject to arrest and deportation.  Those deported will likely face dangers equal to if not worse than those they initially escaped, leaving their relatives (an estimated 273,000 children, and more than 30,000 married partners according to the Center for Migration Studies) with citizenship or legal residency to endure a relentless fear for the survival of their loved ones.

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AFTA’s Support for Transgender Persons

The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) stands with transgender individuals and their families and in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 3.

Texas Senate Bill 3 denies transgender individuals access to bathrooms that match their gender identity in public and charter schools and state and city owned buildings. This bill also prohibits cities from developing their own anti-discrimination policies regarding multiple occupancy restrooms or participation in athletics programs.

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Welcome Letter from AFTA President Victoria Dickerson

Welcome Everyone,

I am pleased to begin my Presidency.  I hope to be of service to everyone in this organization.   It is my fondest wish to realize the vision I articulated shortly after I was elected:

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AFTA Stands Together to Support the AAPI Community

Dear AFTA Community,

We are deeply saddened to hear and see the news about the continuing incidents of xenophobia and hate towards our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, especially during the last several months and most recently with the shootings last week in Atlanta, GA, where six Asian American people were killed. The rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons have increased in light of the pandemic; thus exposing the vulnerabilities that have always existed for this population. These attacks occur irrespective of the fact that an estimated 2 million of the front line COVID-19 healthcare providers, first responders, and other essential workers that serve across our country are from Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

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It is with heavy hearts that we reach out to express our sorrow after another shooting and as another environmental disaster threatens families and communities. We grieve with the families and communities in Texas and those impacted by Hurricane Dorian. We grieve with and for our country. We also stand with the courageous protesters in Hong Kong. 
There is much unrest in our communities and throughout our world. From gun violence and immigration to climate crises and political unrest, our families and communities, both here and abroad, are hurting. 
We challenge you, as a part of AFTA, to act and work toward change. 
What are you doing in your community? How can we support you in these efforts? How might we come together to demand change?
To join the Family Policy and Human Rights Committee, click here. To join the Cultural and Economic Diversity Committee, click here. To join in conversation with AFTA members on climate repair, click here. If you have ideas as to how AFTA might act, please let us know.
Let us look to those who are doing, let us look to the helpers. Let us join together to create a more just, safe, sustainable world.
Amy Tuttle, Ph.D.
AFTA President

AFTA Support of the Global Climate Strike

Millions of school climate strikers have been leaving their classrooms  every Friday. Now they hope that everyone else will join them in action. Going on climate strike means people everywhere walking out of their homes, their offices, their farms, and their factories. Young people have woken up much of the world with their powerful Fridays for Future  school strikes for the climate. As we deal with devastating climate breakdown and hurtle towards dangerous tipping points, young people are calling on millions of us across the planet to disrupt business as usual by joining the global climate strikes on September 20, just ahead of a UN emergency climate summit, and again on September 27. Together, we will sound the alarm and show our politicians that business as usual is no longer an option. The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we.  

AFTA is joining the Global Climate Strike September 20 to 27 as a partner and ally together with innumerous national and international organizations. We believe that the climate emergency calls for bold peaceful actions that are in tune with our social justice mission and the strengthening of communities that sustain healthy families. The climate crisis impacts individuals, families, and communities, in ways that worsen inequity. Our commitment to an ecosystemic practice is historically at the core of AFTA values.  

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AFTA denounces Anti-Semitism in the United States. AFTA rejects hate crimes.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


AFTA condemns the brutal Chanukah attacks in New York State, the New Jersey shooting, and the numerous acts of violence targeting Jews in New York City that have all occurred in recent weeks. As a community we decry these specific hate-crimes, and as systems-thinkers we know that to narrow our focus to that of recent events is to constrain our understanding of the problem of anti-Semitism, impede the process of change and obscure possibilities for resistance.

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AFTA Decries Anti-Black Racism and Stands with Those Calling for Change

AFTA stands in solidarity with those protesting pervasive anti-Black racism, those keeping vigil in the face of unrelenting racial violence, and those for whom the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are the echoes of an unbearable, generations-old pain.

We decry the state-sanctioned devaluation of Black life and the terrorization of Black families and communities perpetrated by law enforcement and vigilantes. Our collective mourning of lives lost to the COVID-19 virus is marked by our outrage at the disproportionate death toll suffered by Black Americans. 

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AFTA Applauds the Supreme Court’s Affirmation of the Civil Rights of Gay and Transgender Citizens and the Continued Protection of Dreamers

The American Family Therapy Academy applauds the landmark decision recently made by our Supreme Court to affirm the civil rights of gay and transgender people.  In doing so, the highest Court responded to the courage, resilience and tenacity of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ activists and advocates,  their allies and families, and queer and trans affirming organizations that have been working to protect the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ community from the ongoing assaults of transphobia, heteronormativity, and the vicious contempt of the current administration.  

Our celebration of this decision is dampened by the tenacity of these brutal assaults, where in the midst of Pride Month, and on the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting (one of the worst mass killings in the nation’s history whose victims were primarily Queer People of Color), the White House chose to announce it was officially overturning protections in healthcare for transgender people and adding religious exemptions to the provision of services to L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+ individuals and families. Shortly after, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed that homeless shelters be allowed to deny trans people access to single-sex shelters that correspond with their gender identity in order to better accommodate the religious beliefs of shelter providers. 

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AFTA Reaffirms the Need for a Balanced Supreme Court

As a community of practitioners, teachers, and researchers working in service of the well-being of families and communities, we are breathing a collective sigh of relief at the election results. We are allowing ourselves to access hope, and tentatively engage the belief that our leaders will now readily operate from the assumptions that Black Lives Matter, families belong together, no human is illegal, science is real, love is love, and the future is not binary.

The U.S. Supreme Court Election Firmly Leans Toward a more Conservative Ideology that Confirms an Imbalance of Power in the Judiciary System and Raises a Multitude of legal Issues on Minorities and Human Rights

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AFTA joins many in their tears of relief at the historic guilty verdict of a police officer who was responsible for the murder of a Black man, a scenario that has been far too common in our nation. It is our hope that this week's verdict can bring some level of peace to George Floyd's family in particular and to society at large. This does not change the ongoing need for comprehensive change in our society, but it is a step in the right direction. 

 Justice will require a long-term structural change to state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown individuals and communities to restore trust and a sense of security across the nation. AFTA denounces racism and police brutality and joins in the call for a civilian review of police to reimagine public safety in the US. Continued accountability is needed.

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Dear AFTA Members:

As my term as president comes to an end, I want to thank all of you for your support and commitment to the work of AFTA. I feel honored and privileged to have served.

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Statement on Transgender Students

March 14, 2017

The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) stands in opposition to the recent executive order rescinding the protection of transgender students using bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their affirmed gender identity. Rescinding these protections puts transgender and gender non-conforming (TG/NC) children at risk for further harassment and discrimination. Seventy-five percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe at school and the discrimination they experience has led to a suicide attempt rate 42-46% higher than their cisgender peers. TG/NC students face significantly higher rates of harassment and discrimination than their lesbian and gay cisgender peers; not only by fellow students, but by adults charged with their care. This puts TG/NC students at increased risk for suicide, self-harm, risky behavior, school avoidance, and drug use. Federal protections are necessary to guarantee TG/NC students’ civil rights within the school environment. They are vital to the health and safety of these students and their families.

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February 14, 2017

The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) stands in absolute opposition to the recent raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over this past weekend.

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January 31, 2017

Dear AFTA Members,

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Letter in Support of Standing Rock

December 1, 2016

Today the President of AFTA, Jane Bardavid, sent the following letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Governor of North Dakota.

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AFTA Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Board of Directors of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) has reluctantly accepted the resignation of Kiran Shahreen Kaur Arora, Ph.D. The Board deeply appreciates the vision and leadership Dr. Arora has shown throughout her tenure as President of the Board.
In accordance with Article IV, Section 4 of the AFTA Bylaws, the Board announces the succession of Vice President, Jane Bardavid, LCSW, to the position of President. Ms. Bardavid will fulfill the remainder of Dr. Arora's term, serving as President until June 30, 2017. An election is in process to determine which Academy member will serve the presidential term that follows, beginning July 1, 2017.
Ms. Bardavid is the retired director and now consultant of CAPE, a mental health clinic that provides affordable comprehensive services sensitive to the needs of older adults. She has devoted much of her career to ensuring that older adults receive their fair share from the mental health community.
She has served AFTA for over nine years in multiple capacities, as Vice President, Chair of the Development Committee, Board Secretary, a member of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Family Policy and Human Rights Committee. She is a graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work, Minuchin Center for Family Studies; Former Chair, of Queens Geriatrics Committee; a former member of the Executive Board, of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies; Secretary, of Queensboro Council for Social Welfare; Instructor of Family Therapy, Adelphi School of Social Work; and a previous Clinical FT Supervisor.
The Board enthusiastically welcomes Jane Bardavid's leadership. She has worked closely and collaboratively with Dr. Arora over the past year in her capacity as Vice President. Her experience and demonstrated commitment to AFTA’s growth will ensure a seamless transition.

Jane Bardavid
AFTA President

Kevin George
Executive Director

AFTA Joins Other Mental Health Organizations to Protest “Religious Freedom” Laws

April 20, 2016 - The nation's leading mental health professional organizations are expressing dismay over the space of recent bills and laws that would allow for individuals and businesses to deny services, employment, and housing to LGBT people under the guise of religious freedom. Other states are proposing and enacting laws that would require transgender people to use public restrooms based on their sex assigned at birth. Also of serious concern is a bill recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly that would allow mental health professionals to deny services to LGBT people based on a counselor's religious beliefs.

These bills and laws run counter to the adopted policies of our organizations, which essentially state that we do not condone discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, or physical or emotional disability.

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Statement on the Orlando Tragedy

We, the members of the American Family Therapy Academy, express our profound sorrow for the violence at the Pulse Orlando Nightclub & Ultra Lounge, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. History (Why the Orlando Shooting was so Deadly - The New York Times). "The last day in which so many people were killed in one location on U.S. soil because of gunfire was likely during the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee" (A timeline of the deadliest shootings in American History - The Washington Post). We grieve for the friends, families, and communities of the murdered and wounded and stand in solidarity with them. As family therapists, we emphasize that hate crimes affect the physical and emotional health and well-being of children, families, and communities of the victims of violence.

While we decry this tragic act perpetrated against the Latino LGBTQ+ community—the primary targets of the largest mass shooting in United States history—we also protest the rhetoric used to threaten and blame Muslim people for the actions of one man. This persecution of our citizens of the Muslim faith serves to distract from the systematic violence perpetrated on the LGBTQ+ community.

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