Family Education and Community Building
A critical aspect to creating a welcoming school for all children is the involvement and understanding of the parents and guardians in the school community.
Sometimes the concern about discussing different kinds of families in school, in particular families with LGBT parents, is that parents/guardians don’t know how these topics are being addressed in school and they don’t know what to say when their children start asking questions. Evening programs give parents/guardians a chance to discuss their concerns, while at the same time see how families with LGBT parents/caring adults can be explained in a child-friendly way.
Family programs can also be a great way to open dialogue and discussion between parents/guardians and their children. Contact a Welcoming Schools regional trainer for advice on holding an evening event at your school.
Keys to a successful event:
- The more people you work with to organize these events, the more people will come.
- If you are an educator, involve the parents and guardians in your school.
- If you are a parent/guardian, involve the educators and administrators in your school.
- Reach out to all kinds of families in your school to organize the event and attend it.
- Make sure it is well publicized and serve food!
Use our award winning short film to bring your school community together to discuss how educators and families can work together to stop hurtful teasing and gay putdowns and how your school can be welcoming to all students and their families. The film helps parents and educators see the level of knowledge that students already have while at the same time helping people feel more comfortable answering children’s questions about gay men and lesbians.
This award winning film can be a simple way to open discussion about all kinds of diverse families including multi-racial, adoptive, single-parented, and same-sex-parented. The children in this film speak for themselves. An evening event can be held either only for adults or for families. This accessible film can help address parental concerns and answer children’s questions.
With a panel of parents and guardians from your school community, help people learn more about each other — to see what makes families unique, as well as what they have in common and what values they share. It helps people see the realities of the diversity within their own community.
Do your children ask questions about other kinds of families that you are not sure how to answer? Children are curious and often ask questions when they come into contact with families different from their own – Why doesn’t she live with her dad/mom? Why does he have two moms? Who are her real parents? Why doesn’t he look like his parents? Talking with others helps parents and educators become more comfortable approaching these topics.
Family Books Bags involves organizing grade-level book bags to be sent home with each child on a rotating basis throughout the school year. Each book bag includes books that can be read with family members, audiotapes of books, activities and games to play and recipes from various cultures. The project engages both students and parents/guardians, providing them with opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse backgrounds of the families in the school community and the community at large.