As the number of gay and lesbian families grow, so do the questions. Who will be the father/mother? Will they be a father (or mother, or donor, or surrogate, or co-parent)? How will we do it? How will the child, grandparents, school friends, parents’ friends and every one else in the world react to the child of a non-traditional family?

To answer some of these questions and, no doubt, many, many more, ACON and the Leichhardt Women’s Health Centre are hosting a one-day parenting workshop. Organiser and ACON lesbian health officer Somali Cerise says the more than 60 already registered attendees are a mix of men and women in a wide range of situations.

Some are already parents, either by use of donor sperm or from a previous heterosexual relationship. Others are men, women and even would-be grandparents who are deeply embroiled in parenting planning, and some are just hoping to have children at some stage in the future.

I think there is an assumption out there that gay men and lesbians aren’t parents, Cerise says.

But research shows there are more gay men and lesbians in parenting relationships than ever. I think there’s obviously a gap when it comes to things like service provisions and support for gay and lesbian parents.

The Pink Parenting workshop will be a chance to meet and discuss getting pregnant, having children and raising them in gay and lesbian families. It will give parents and planning parents essential information on the law, health and homophobia, as well as a chance to hear the experiences of lesbians and gay men who already have children.

People will be able to make contact with other parents and they can learn skills on some of the more practical aspects of parenting and becoming parents, Cerise says.

It’s an opportunity for people to talk about what others are doing -“ what works as well as what doesn’t work. I think it’s unfortunate that the stories that get out into the media are always the ones that go wrong, or the tragedies that happen. There are so many positive things about our families.

The morning’s panel speakers will also be a mix of legal experts -“ able to answer questions about the current political and legal situation -“ and gay and lesbian parents.

Afternoon workshops will run concurrently -“ one on preconception and pregnancy and one on parenting. Separate workshops will be held later in the day for men and women on agreements, arrangements and working things out in a non-traditional family.

The final session will be a panel discussion on finding support within the gay and lesbian community, and making the community more family-friendly.

Pink Parenting, a fun and informal one-day workshop for the lesbian and gay community, will be held on Saturday 6 December from 11am to 5pm at ACON, 9 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills. Registrations cost $20 ($10 concession) for singles and $35 ($20 concession) for couples, including lunch and refreshments. Numbers have been capped at 80 and there are only a few spaces left. Ring (02) 9206 2084 for more information.

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