By Lauren Walleser/The Rainbow Times
Family Equality Council (FEC)—a national organization that connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer in the U.S. and their six million children—will present a workshop in Somerville in January entitled “Fostering Healthy Racial Identity Development in Trans-Racial Adoptive LGBTQ-Parented Families.”
Hosted with the Rainbow Initiative Parent Group, local expert Johnny Cole will provide LGBTQ parents with an opportunity to consider issues of race, racial identity development, racism, stereotypes, and prejudices.
“In cross-racial adoptive families, one or both parents are typically white, so we will discuss how parents can navigate a positive racial identity development for minority children from a racially privileged position,” said Cole.
Brent Wright, director of programs at Family Equality Council, said part of the nonprofit’s work is to foster supportive communities, educate the public, and pursue policy change that advances equality for all families, including those that are LGBTQ-headed.
“Workshops such as these are not only examples of the wide range of supports which we strive to offer families to directly empower them in their daily lives, but the workshops are also examples of our commitment to partnerships,” said Wright. “Family Equality Council embraces the power of collaboration because we believe that working in a coalition to build movements is the only way to accomplish lasting social change.”
Wright shared that Family Equality Council sponsors and directly offers hundreds of workshops and panels discussions across the country each year. Some of the topics include effective parenting, financial literacy, using your personal narrative to foster allies, family-building options, promoting inclusive educational settings, and legal supports.
Cole shared what he believes are issues that many cross-racial adoptive families face, both from external forces and within the families themselves.
“Common issues include advocating for children of color in school, navigating cross-racial social interactions for children, providing authentic cultural experiences specific to a child’s racial identity and talking to children of color about race and racism in an age-appropriate manner,” said Cole.
Wright said that the Parents Groups, like Rainbow Initiative, are community-run networks of LGBTQ-headed families. Some are specifically supportive of the community they are based in, while others have a national focus. They aim to create safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ parents and their families, providing educational conversations and social meet-ups. Many groups have moved to an online platform since the rise of social media, according to Wright, providing online discussion forums.
“Whether in-person or online, at the heart of the work of all Parent Groups is their commitment to introduce families to others within the broader LGBTQ parenting community,” said Wright. “When families with shared identities connect, laugh together, discuss shared challenges, offer help and resources to one another, there is a stronger sense of community, of understanding not only one another, but also ourselves. Family Equality Council strives to serve as a national coordinator between LGBTQ parents and their families and these Parent Groups that support them.”
Wright shared that Family Equality Council staff talk with LGBTQ parents and their families in communities across the country every day.
“We place great value on hearing firsthand their wants, needs, and their ‘lived equality’ experiences,” he said. “To best understand the impact our work has on these families, I think all you have to do is take a few minutes to view the annual video that we make, where you can clearly see what it means to have a community of true support reflected in the faces of these parents and their children.”
The video was made at one of Family Equality Council’s annual events, Family Week, which is held in Provincetown, Mass. and will celebrate its 20th anniversary July 25 through August 1, 2015. Other upcoming events include the Los Angeles Awards Dinner in February, Family Weekend in the Midwest, Night at the Pier in New York City, International Family Equality Day, celebrations for Pride all over the country, Families on the West Coast, Family Weekend in the Southwest at Austin Pride, Family Weekend at Gay Days Anaheim, and Family Halloween Parties.
According to Wright, Family Equality Council approaches their work in two ways—through programming and through policy—at the state, regional, and national levels.
“Our strategy is to maintain focus on three components that we believe are critical to change lives and laws: strengthen communities and local leaders through programs and events; educate those communities, surrounding communities, and political leaders through campaigns, sharing stories, providing resources, and training advocates; pursue policy changes that directly affect the lives of our families through changing forms, advancing bills, and providing strategic support,” said Wright.
The workshop on cross-racial adoptive families will take place January 31 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Armory in Somerville. A $10 donation is suggested. Click here to RSVP. For a full and continuously updated list of events, visit familyequality.org.