These tips were written with the hope that they will assist you in connecting with a network of supportive LGBTQ families within your local community, offering more opportunities for you and your children to feel supported both in and out of school. In light of this, each of these suggestions involves a variable amount of risk on your part. Navigating those risks is dependent on your unique understanding of local ideas and behaviours related to LGBTQ identities. Be sure to consider and prepare for potential responses to anyone in your family coming out publically, or semi-publically, as LGBTQ. Safety first!
1) Keep your ear to the ground
The first step towards meeting more LGBTQ families is talking to folks in your school community. Keep your ears open for those sometimes coded references to LGBTQ family members or partners. Often, things won’t even be that subtle; perhaps your child will come home talking about how a classmate has two dads, or is challenging gender norms. You can be amazed at what you find out by engaging in casual conversation.
2) Connect with school staff
If your family has decided to be out at school, consider asking school staff if there are any other openly LGBTQ families at school. Keep an eye out for teachers or administrators that you feel supported by or who you feel support you and other LGBTQ parents; they spend most of their time at school so they may know something you don’t. If there’s a GSA or student-led safe space group at the school, the advisor might be a good person to start with.
3) Connect with the local LGBTQ community
If you’re in a larger city or town, there may already be an LGBTQ parents’ group or support group in place. Otherwise, you may want to try more informal methods, like looking up LGBTQ friendly sports leagues, activity groups or classes. Getting involved in community activities is often a great way to meet and talk with LGBTQ folks and even their families. You might even make some friends.
4) Connect on the web
Part of the beauty of the internet is in its ability to connect those who would otherwise be separated. With that in mind, why not check to see if there are any local LGBTQ websites where you might be able to find other local LGBTQ families? Start at the Resource Listings to see what kind of local resources you can find. Facebook and Twitter can also serve as excellent resources for reaching out to unknown allies in your community. As with anything on the internet, be safe!
5) Consider starting a group outside of school
Even a couple of organized LGBTQ family members and their allies can make a positive difference at school. Once you’ve found a couple of folks interested in working with staff and students to make school safe and more inclusive, why not start a small group? Groups are valuable in that they can better organize efforts to help make school safe, as well as heighten the visibility of LGBTQ inclusivity at school and raise the likelihood of connecting with other LGBTQ families. It can be as casual or as formal as you like.