The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Jeanne Manford

December 4, 1920–January 8, 2013

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Jeanne Manford until we are able to commission a full entry.

Jeanne Manford, (front and center), marches alongside her son Morty Manford in a 1972 gay rights parade in New York City.

Courtesy of PFLAG National.

In 1973 Jeanne Manford’s fierce love for her gay son in the face of national condemnation of homosexuality led her to create a support network for other families, Parents of Gays, later known as PFLAG. Manford’s education was interrupted first by her father’s final illness and then by marriage and children; she graduated from Queens College in 1964 and began teaching public school at PS 32, where she would work until 1990. After her oldest son, Charles, died suddenly, she was determined to support her younger son, Morty, who came out at age fifteen. When Morty was brutally beaten for distributing pro-gay flyers at a New York gala, Manford wrote a letter to the New York Post and walked alongside Morty at that year’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March holding a sign urging other parents to support their gay children. Met with overwhelmingly positive responses from gays, lesbians, and their families, she founded Parents of Gays the following year to offer support and education to families. In her later years, Manford cared for her son, who died of AIDS in 1992, then helped tend her great-granddaughter to enable her granddaughter to attend medical school. President Obama honored her with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jeanne Manford." (Viewed on September 22, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/manford-jeanne>.

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