by April Hawkins | Recently, there’s been some important focus on LGBT youth and bullying in the press, but what about bullying that happens to children with gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender parents? A report issued in August 2011 by the American Psychiatry Association concluded that these children “do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults.” Make sure your little ones are protected by following these steps:
- Provide a cushion for kids by developing a supportive community. If possible, join a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family group in your area. You can search for meetup groups online, or ask your local LGBT community center for guidance.
- Come out to your kid’s teachers. Go to Back to School night or to a parent/teacher conference and come out to your child’s teacher(s). Tell them that you will not tolerate bullying and ask to be made aware of any instance where your child may feel ostracized. By being transparent and communicating with teachers, you develop a connection with the teacher, show that you’re invested in your child’s well-being, and create clear consequences for bullying.
- Reach out at the child’s school. Effect change in your community and help your children and other students by creating a safe school environment. Check out GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)’s Four Steps Schools Can Take to Address Bullying to guide schools in creating a safe environment. Talk to the school principal about creating an action plan to address bullying.
- Connect with national organizations on a local level. If you’re living in or near a large city, chances are you have a whole network available to you and your family. Here are some of our top picks:
- COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) is a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parent/s. They build community and work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy. COLAGE chapters host events to teach people age 8 and older about taking care of themselves and their families through a social justice perspective. Find your local chapter here.
- PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Find your local PFLAG chapter here.
- If you live in a remote area and don’t have access to a community resource, read Families Like Mine or take a look at the Kids of Trans Parents Guide.
Promoting a safe school environment through education, strong community, and advocacy work ensures that everyone will be treated with respect and dignity. As Dr. Seuss said, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”*
* Horton Hears a Who