Gay family group go back to school

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A gay parents group has launched a Back to School pamphlet, titled, “Building Family Equality in Every Classroom” aiming to promote strategies to educate schools about the unique needs of children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] parents in the classroom.

Family Pride hopes the publication will help LGBT parents to support their children at school.

Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Pride, said: “This time of year, most parents are making out ‘Back to School’ lists: pens and pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes, jeans and sneakers.

“It’s just as important to add Family Pride’s resources to that list. Introduce your family, check for anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, insure that school forms and curricula are inclusive of all types of families. Family Pride encourages LGBT parents to consider your child’s needs, to know your rights, and to reach out to the school community.”

The tool provides checklists of concrete methods for parents to be proactive in their dealings with the school community. It provides strategies for talking to teacher and principals, formulating questions about inclusivity and language, and working with others to enact positive change.

“Like all parents, the reality is that LGBT parents have to raise the needs of our kids and help educators do their jobs better with positive solutions and innovative ideas,” Ms Chrisler added.

“If our schools had asbestos, we’d stand up, if our playgrounds were unsafe, we’d stand up. Children are facing anti-LGBT hostility and we need to stand up,.” she said.

Working successfully with a school community isn’t always about lofty projects, “It’s often the little things that make the most difference,” said Trina Olson, Family Pride’s education manager. “For example, we suggest you speak with your child’s teacher about the language your family uses. ‘I’m Mom and Jill is Momma.’ This kind of basic information gives your child’s teacher the framework he or she needs to talk about your family. By giving these specifics, you have given the teacher the tools to be comfortable talking about and advocating for your family,” Ms Olson added.

The materials also encourage parents to talk with their kids about what they need at school; they may have helpful insights about their school community, and preferences for how they are represented.