One of the heartening things for this gay dad to see is the number of gay dads and lesbian mums being out and proud about being parents. Not just in the GLTBI community but in the wider community. The importance of being out and proud cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, there are some gay and lesbian parents who hide their sexuality from parts of the community out of fear and sometimes shame.
I recently spoke to a gay male couple who have a daughter together. When they took her to school they pretended she had only one father. They wanted to protect their daughter from being bullied. There was no actual bullying going on, but the dads were concerned that if they were out, their daughter could be bullied. I responded, rather flippantly, that she has red hair and I would have thought that would have been a greater concern.
I was horrified by their attitude. How on earth will they manage to continue to conceal their family structure from the wider community? What message was it sending their daughter? That she could not be proud of her family? Surely, potential bullying needs to be dealt with, but never by hiding who you are. It needs to be confronted.
As gay or lesbian parents we are all aware of the potential of bullying and discrimination being directed at our children. Not one of us ignores that possibility. But the solution is to confront it, by being proud of your family. Teaching your children that their family is just one type of family out of countless others. All are real. All are valuable. All are important. We need to teach our kids how to be strong in the face of bullies and we need to give them the self-confidence to be proud.
Recently when discussing this issue with a lesbian mum of 2 gorgeous boys, she responded that if you give your kids unconditional love and teach them about unconditional love, then it is the best way to give them the skills to deal with hate and ignorance. Her simple recipe impressed me.
There have been a great series of posters going into childcare centres around Victoria in recent years called “Who’s In Your Family”. Produced in conjunction with the Rainbow Families Council in Victoria they are a simple, colourful and educational way of describing the many varied family structures. They include single parents, gay dads, lesbian mums, mum and dad and grandparent structured families.
If your childcare centre or kindergarten or primary school doesn’t have these posters contact Rainbow Families Council and get some. Approach the centre manager or principal and explain to them how important it is to get this imagery and message out there for young kids.
You need to step up and be out and proud about your family, in every aspect of your life. It is the only way you will teach your child to do the same.