I’ve been evaluating preschools for my son over the past few weeks. As part of my discussions with teachers and administrators, I always mention that we’re a two-mom family, and ask “Is this going to be a problem for anyone here?” I don’t expect anyone would ever come right out and say “yes”—we’re in a pretty liberal area of the country and not looking at any schools tied to conservative religious denominations. Even so, there is a range of reaction that gives me some sense of how positive the environment will be. Responses seem to fall into three broad types:
- Unbiased but clueless: “Oh, of course not,” followed by silence.
- Haven’t dealt with same-sex families, and don’t talk about us directly, but understand that diversity is important: “It’s not a problem. In fact, we have one child with a single mom, and when we do projects about our families, we always make sure to talk about how different people have different situations.”
- Have either had experience with same-sex families or are at least able to address the matter using proper language: “We had one lesbian family here last year, but their child graduated,” or “I saw a book about same-sex families that I’m going to order for our collection,” or “We’d love to discuss how to include information on gay families in the family unit of our curriculum.”
A general guideline for school officials: Information about acceptance and inclusion is Really Important to Us, as it is to those who ask about diversity of race, religion, physical ability, etc. If you make an effort to show us, not just tell us, that you’re allies, we’ll feel a whole lot more comfortable leaving our children in your care. If you haven’t dealt with a particular situation before, that’s fine. Admit it, but indicate your openness to working with us and learning how to create an even better environment for all children.
Parents who would like additional ideas for how to approach schools, or who would like some materials to leave with teachers and administrators, should check out Family Pride’s Publications on Making Schools Inclusive. Feel free to leave comments below with additional ideas from your own experience, too.