- August 15, 2013
Post submitted by Tracy Flynn, Pacific Northwest regional consultant for HRC's Welcoming Schools program.
Fall is always a time of anticipation. With that can come excitement and anxiety for our children and in ourselves.
Here are some tips for LGBT-headed households as we all head back to school.
1.) Start your school routines early. If meal and bed times change during the school year, start that process early to help with your child adjusting.
2.) Establish back to school rituals and routines. In our family, it was a time for new haircuts ( for mom, too) and new shoes. We also took a first day of school photo every year, K–12.
3.) Be proactive. Give your child's teacher a heads up about your expectations as a parent and how you'd like them to address and respond to other children's questions about your family. Most teachers want to do a good job and will be better able to do that if we help them with language that describes our families. Our children's teachers were happy to hear from us and felt supported by our actions—in turn, they supported our children .
4.) Notice if your child is excited or anxious about the return to school. Check in with them and find out why. Engage them in a conversation about school safety and having and being an ally. Help them to identify adults (and other children) they can turn to while at school for support.
5.) Be realistic, not overly worried. We don't need to be overly worried about our children feeling safe and welcomed at school, but it is important that we be realistic. Sometimes children, including children from LGBTQ-headed households, can be teased or bullied for their differences.
6.) Build resilience. Help your child feel proud of who they are and where they come from. Share stories and read books that reflect your family in a positive light. Share books you like with your child's teacher, too. (The Welcoming Schools bibliography can help with this.)
7.) Don't go it alone. As parents, it can be isolating and confusing—remember we are continuing to learn right along with our children. It can be helpful to tap into any resources available at your child's school, be they of the educational or financial variety. Work to build your own support network; our network included lots of LGBTQ families, but also plenty of other family structures. This support can help you be the best parent you can be.
Through its Welcoming Schools program, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation works to give educators, parents and administrators in school districts across the country the necessary tools to create learning environments in which all students are welcomed and respected. Learn more at WelcomingSchools.org