The role that families play in their children’s lives and the process of inclusion is crucial. Families are the first people to know the child and they will be the ones involved throughout their school journey.

If a student comes to a teacher and opens up to them about something they are struggling with or feeling in regards to the LGBTQ+ community, the teacher might have to talk with the parents about it. They should, however, keep in mind if the child is already ‘out’ to their families and how they feel about it. If they are not ‘out’ yet it is not appropriate for the teacher to talk to the parents unless the child specifically said they could or have the child present if they need help coming out to their parents. If the child is ‘out’ at home and they are experiencing struggle related to this, the teachers can contact the parents following the same guidelines they normally would when a child might experience difficulties, mental health issues, and other worrying things. When talking to the parents they have to keep a lot of things in mind. For some of these things, it might be a good idea to get help from other departments in the school or to present the parents with curriculum material on this topic.

One of the things to keep in mind is the cultural background of the parents. According to LGBT Youth Scotland (n.d.), exploring the culture of the language learned is an important part of the Modern Languages curriculum. This could easily be explored in the context of LGBT rights and/or issues in other countries, either directly through newspaper articles, or teacher prepared materials. This could be completed with the social studies and/or literacy department.

LGBT Youth Scotland (n.d.) also says that in social studies, children and young people should develop their understanding of the world by learning about other people and their values, in different times, places and circumstances. While this places LGBT people in an ‘other’ category, it certainly gives clear opportunities for addressing inequality, challenging discrimination and understanding prejudice. Activities or discussion that the teacher used in the classroom can also be used with the parents.

Another thing that they mentioned can be done, is to reference religious leaders if religion is an obstacle in the LGBTQ+ acceptance of the parents. There are several LGBT people who are also religious leaders and most have spoken openly and eloquently about their faith and sexual orientation Showcasing these leaders will help reassure LGBT people of faith and allow opportunities to discuss this topic. Suggestions include Bishop Gene Robinson, Imam Daayiee Abdullah and Rabbi Laura Naomi Janner-Klausner. (LGBT Youth Scotland, n.d.).

Something that can be helpful for the teacher is to ask themselves before talking with the parents; ‘’What do you think the family needs concerning supporting their children?’’, ‘’What do you think families’ concerns are about their children?’’ and ‘’What is your role concerning supporting families with children in the LGBTQ+ community?’’

Another tactic that they can use to understand why parents might not be willing to participate is a parent empathy map (Day, 2016). This map allows teachers to understand family perspectives better and might ultimately make families feel more understood. The map encourages teachers to reflect on four questions.

How to talk to students about parents in regards to the LGBT+ community

Awareness of the diversity of families has increased among professional educators over the last decade. According to the 2000 U.S. census, 99% of counties in the United States reported the presence of self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) couples, many of which have children or will have children in the future’’.

Something mentioned by LGBT Youth Scotland (n.d.), is that when learning about language to describe families, it is easiest to assume that there is a Mum and Dad if only to introduce all the vocabulary, however, there is no reason, once the singular of Mum and Dad have been cemented, families with two mums or two dads couldn’t be used. This simple piece of inclusion can be very powerful, especially if it is done without fanfare.

Real-world application is a good technique to make sure children make connections and create an understanding. Teachers can add LGBT voices and identities to questions, scenarios and problem-solving. For example, two dads working out how much pocket money to give their children or a family with two mums budgeting a trip to the cinema: Q. An adult cinema ticket is £8.95; a child ticket is £4.95. A family which has two mums and three children go to the cinema, how much do they spend on tickets? (LGBT Youth Scotland, n.d.)

Another thing that can be done is to discuss the families in the classroom. Make a display for example where students put up drawings of their families. This is a great opening point for discussion of what different families look like, not only in regards to the LGBTQ+ community but also, for example, in regards to race and disabilities.

Students also might experience bullying, misconceptions, prejudices and might even be afraid to invite their friend to their house. There are strategies that help create a safe school environment for students with LGBTQ+ parents. The following examples are recommendations from the Youth Leadership and Action Program of COLAGE (2003)

In conclusion, the best things that a teacher can with their classrooms in regards to LGBTQ+ diverse families is to discuss this with them. Making the children aware of the differences and having them accept these differences, but also including the parents in this process and communicating with them is one of the most helpful things of creating a safe and open environment for everyone.


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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by room305 and Inclusive Education Class 2020-2021 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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