I recently wrote a guest post on the City Dads blog, sharing some ways to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families. That list could have been endless, but I know folks (especially other parents) don’t have time to read all day!
However, I couldn’t stop at that first dozen, so here are twelve more ways you can support, protect and advocate for queer families and parents. And while this list focuses on families, many of these actions can benefit anyone in the LGBTQ community.
- When you learn about someone’s family makeup or their journey to becoming parents, don’t say, “Wow that sounds complicated!” It’s happened to me — more than a few times. It may very well be complicated, but saying so others and trivializes our families.
- If you get someone’s pronouns (he/she/they) or family terms (dad/mom/baba) wrong a few times, don’t make a big deal out of it. “Thanks for correcting me” is a great response. If you get it wrong more than a few times, try harder. It really does matter.
- As you’re getting to know queer parents, invite them to any and all activities — not just “boys night out” or “girls night out.” One of the great things about many LGBTQ families is that they don’t adhere to typical gender roles. Invite the gay dads or lesbian moms to the poker game, but also to the wine tasting. We will go where we’re interested, but like being included without assumption. This will also go a long way towards tearing down gender norms and stereotypes for you, too!
- Don’t think you know any LGBTQ people? (You probably do) Regardless, go follow LGBTQ parents and family organizations on social media. Much of our everyday lives and experiences don’t make it into mainstream media outlets—even the progressive ones.
Educate your schools
- Donate books with LGBTQ characters and stories to your child’s school or local library. If they don’t accept donations, find out what the policy is for getting new books approved and get involved. Here’s a list of some great books to get you started!
- Join your PTA’s diversity and inclusion committee. Doesn’t exist? Form one.
- Are there events at school that are specific to moms or dads? Encourage those in charge to make them all-inclusive or gender neutral. My son’s school changed Dads & Donuts and Moms & Muffins to Parents & Pastries. We got a bigger turnout and had a wider variety of goodies!
Religion & politics
- Find out if your church supports homophobic or transphobic policies or beliefs, including but not limited to employment and volunteer opportunities, marriage restrictions, support of homophobic organizations, and conversion therapy. If your church (or job or school for that matter) upholds policies that harm or exclude LGBTQ people and families, demand and initiate new policies, or find a new church.
- Learn where your local politicians, judges, school boards and other elected officials stand on issues important to LGBTQ families. Vote accordingly.
Seeing the bigger picture
- Embrace the entire rainbow. Saying you approve of Ls, Gs and Bs, without also supporting trans people, queer folks, nonbinary persons, etc. is not being an ally. Advocacy isn’t á la carte.
- Make sure your research, education and advocacy doesn’t forget about intersectionality. The LGBTQ community includes people of all races, nationalities, religions and abilities.
- Wear a Free Mom Hugs / Free Dad Hugs t-shirt at Pride events. Prepare to be hugged. A LOT.
And finally, one of the most important things you can do is listen. A few years ago, I moderated a panel of LGBTQ fathers at a conference for stay at-home dads. It was a first for this conference, and it opened up an amazing conversation as we found common ground around issues of isolation, lack of societal/cultural support and dismantling gender roles. When people take the time for genuine dialog — to listen and ask questions — hearts and minds are changed. And in many cases, lives are saved.
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As I mentioned, this list could have been much longer. Be sure to check out my other list on City Dads Group, and feel free to share any other ideas or strategies in the comments. Happy Pride, and thanks in advance for being an amazing ally!