THE children of lesbian mums are being “traumatised” by being forced to make Father’s Day cards in school and non-biological gay parents are being ignored by doctors, according to LGBTI family advocates who want more done to support same-sex couples with kids.
Sydney-based Rainbow Babies and Families group coordinator Nadine Sharpe said teachers, day care staff and medical professionals were not properly equipped to deal with same-sex parents and families needed advice on how to tackle ignorant comments of even downright hostility.
“School and day care is another challenging area.
“Issues range from talking to staff about your family structure, educating them on the appropriate language to use around your child, tackling homophobia, and dealing with events such as… schools that have forced a child to make a Father’s Day card for their dad, even though the teacher was well aware of the fact that the child had two mums and no dad.
“That can be a very traumatic experience for the child and shows no tolerance for family structures outside the heterosexual norm.”
Sharpe said she backed a proposal for City of Sydney council to develop a resource for rainbow families that would provide advice and guidance as well as tips on how children should deal with questions about their home life.
“Learning how to respond in these situations is a challenging process, so having some material to provide guidance would be helpful,” she said.
Cr Linda Scott, who is taking the plan to this evening’s council meeting, said the number of rainbow families in the city was on the rise.
“By developing this resource, the City of Sydney can provide practical support for local rainbow families to access information about local service providers and supportive networks,” she said.
“There are always challenges for every family in explaining and understanding differences to children – and it is my hope that resource kit will be useful for all families to understand how to approach these conversations.”
Deb Gavan is the organiser of Rainbow Babies and Kids Camping that regularly sees up to 100 families from around the country meet on the NSW south coast for outdoor holidays.
She said her daughter has had to repeatedly explain her family life to her pre-school classmates.
“It was the first week and my daughter was told it’s not true you can’t have two mums, you have to have a mum and a dad,” Gavan said.
“She explained very clearly it was possible and these boys came back day-after-day with the position of ‘no, that’s not right’.
“And that’s easy for her because he’s a bolshy four-year-old but for other familles who are isolated or less confident to experience something like this is possibly the first time they have to deal with heteronormativity.”
Gaven said a rainbow families kit could include details of gay and lesbian counselling services, playgroups for LGBTI families and information on social opportunities for the older children of same-sex couples.
It could also be useful for parents in suburban and regional areas.
“While RPA [hospital in Sydney] might be okay, suburban and country hospitals might be different so I think it would have implications the further you got away from the City of Sydney,” Gavan said.