Culture / News & Politics

Something on Lesbian Families and School

One of my biggest concerns when I started thinking about having kids was how the education system would treat my family. Other than the Health System, School is perhaps one of the first institutions we have to face. This seems to worry a lot of us because questions regarding these matters tend to come up at our meetings for future lesbian moms with lesmadres. We also got some questions from other families who are worried about gender stereotypes and the way families are portrayed in textbooks, forms and events in School. I remember not wanting to go to Kindergarten because I had issues with gender stereotypes and I remember some nasty comments about my parents being divorced when I was in High School. Things have changed now but not uniformly, not everywhere, and you still get to hear some awful stories in these regards.

There were always LBGT families but since marriage equality was approved a lot of them came out and we had (we are still having) our Gayby Boom. A lot of teachers mean well but don’t have the resources to act or the words to talk about our families and this sometimes leads to unintentional discrimination. I recommend  this old interview with Abigail Garner, author of “Famlies Like Mine” to see what I mean with having the words…

So in 2010 lesmadres began to work to create a booklet to take to schools to introduce them to our families, to raise awareness and to work against the sexism and heterosexism that goes on in School. We found a lot of resources in English but not many in Spanish and we needed it to be specific for our education system.

So we came up with a survey and asked teachers from all over the country to tell us what situations they came upon, what were their fears, concerns and doubts regarding our families. We learned a lot from this surveys and we combined the experience some of us had working within the education system and, of course, the experience of the moms in the group and our allies. We focused mainly on Kindergarten and Elementary School and the idea was to work first with allies within the Education System so we addressed them in the introduction page of the booklet saying, “we know that kids live, observe and understand different realities spontaneously. They don’t think of differences as something negative. In general, it’s us, the adults, who transmit negative values when we speak about differences. This is our big challenge: to be adults/teachers that encourage children to respect and value the richness that diversity implies”.

When we had the booklet almost ready we sent it to people working at the National Education Ministry, who were more than helpful and awesome, and our final product was approved by them in May 2011, we called it “Familias Co-maternales: guía para personal educativo” (Famlies in Co-maternity: guide for educational personnel) and it can be downloaded for free here. It’s focused mainly in families with two moms but it features all kinds of families. It also points out the sexism and heterosexism in school content and paperwork.

If you understand Spanish, I recommend you see the video from presentation we did for the booklet. Personally I loved Mara Brawer’s speech. Back then she was Sub-secretary of Educational Equality and Quality at the Education Ministry and now she’s a National Deputy. Among many interesting things, she said that we should not work to get our families included in the system. There shouldn’t be privileged people in the School Community that include or try not to exclude certain individuals, there should be a campaign so we all understand that each family is a part of the community.

 

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