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Forum to help parents find LGBT-friendly schools

family1.jpgTomorrow night, dozens of public and private school parents and school administrators will meet at Chabot Elementary School in Rockridge to discuss ways to make schools more welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parents and their kids.

The session is co-sponsored by Our Family Coalition and The East Bay Community Foundation.

In Alameda County, the median age of a child from an LGBT family is only 6.2, according to the news release from Our Family Coalition.

Here’s more information about the event, straight from the flyer:

This second annual Oakland forum is designed to give participants an introduction to innovative and groundbreaking strategies to ensure kids of LGBT families are welcomed and treated inclusively by public schools and to help integrate LGBT people into broader goals for full inclusion in school communities. 

 The first Oakland forum held last year drew approximately 100 participants.  More are expected to attend the second annual forum.  There will also be breakout sessions by school district.

 WHEN  & WHERE: 

 Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007 – 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 pm

Chabot Elementary School, 6686 Chabot Road, Oakland

WHO:       Panel discussion moderated by Judy Appel, Executive Director of Our Family Coalition.  The panel includes:

·          Barry Chersky, education consultant with expertise in LGBT issues in schools; 

·          Susan Hodge, Principal of Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley;

·          Caryn Chan, teacher at Oxford Elementary School in Berkeley; and

·          Parent Huda Jadallah, who has a child in the Oakland Unified School District

 The event will feature introductory remarks by East Bay Community Foundation Board member Debbie Alvarez-Rodriguez, President & Chief Executive Officer, Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo & Marin.

 The Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, and San Leandro school districts, as well as independent schools, have been invited to participate.  

 Co-sponsored by Our Family Coalition and the East Bay Community Foundation, The forum is intended to provide LGBT parents, LGBT family members,, teachers and school administrators with  opportunities to discuss groundbreaking strategies for creating inclusive and welcoming environments for LGBT parents/caregivers and their children.

 WHY:       The number of LGBT families in the East Bay is on the rise.  The extent to which public schools are welcoming and inclusive for children of LGBT families in Alameda County affects at least 2,163 children with a median age of 6.2 years, according to the 2000 U.S. census, though the real number is probably much larger. 

 This annual forum is intended to share information and success stories among parents, educate parents about what questions to ask in their school searches, and to provide a friendly setting in which parents and participating schools can communicate with each other.  

<small>Photo from the Our Family Coalition Web site</small>

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Debora

    My experience coming from a two Mom family with a second grade daughter at Joaquin Miller Elementary School is that while we or our daughter may have to answer questions from a curious student, we are welcomed as completely as any other family. I was the first “Mom” to join the “Dads Club” but since my initiation, we have had many Moms join, those from two Mom families as well as those who are single Moms and married Moms as well.

    The librarian carries books about all kinds of families and the PTA used a meeting to show a film about all kinds of families. I also believe, maybe naively, that if parents make an effort to be a part of the school family, give of their time, commitment and resources and support the teachers, principal and school personnel they well be accepted and supported in return.

  • Judy

    I am a new two mom parent from Redwood Heights School. I have not checked out the school library yet to see what books it carries about alternative families. However, it is my understanding that the film of which you speak has not been allowed at the school yet. It is my hope that this may happen in the future.

  • James Jones, Jr., Parent, etc.

    Slightly off topic question:

    What does the lifestyle of the Parents have to do with what happens in the Classroom? How does it affect Math and Science and Reading and Writing and History?

    It seems to me, that if the Parents are living an Alternative lifestyle, and they want their child to understand it, it’s up to them to explain it to their child. I personally don’t want my child hearing or seeing anything about alternative lifestyles from anybody other than me. And I definitely won’t be having that discussion while they are in Elementary school. I really resent the idea that I may be forced to have this conversation too early. I feel the same way about religion. I feel the same way about Slavery. I did not want to bog my 9-year old down with all that heavy historical baggage before I believed he was ready but, OpenCourt introduced him to a glossy version of Slavery that I had to correct.

    Thoughts?

  • turner

    Well said, Mr. Jones. Well said.

    Too many people want the schools to teach students what they should be learning at home. No wonder our students are learning so much useless trivia, not enough real skills and knowledge; and now they can’t compete with their peers in other countries.

    Let’s focus on education. As the gentleman said…Math and Science and Reading and Writing and History.

  • Debora

    As a Mom in a two mom family, I couldn’t agree more about focusing on the educational aspect of school. We do not have time to spend talking about families.

    However, when a child approaches me in the hall, after spending several hours helping in the class, volunteering to spend time in the hallway listening to a struggling child read, spending time overseeing the yard at lunch, stapling the school newsletter, helping in the computer lab and sitting through school site committees and PTA meetings, and asks how a child can have two moms. I am going to explain that I gave birth to my daughter and her other Mom adopted her when she was 9 months old and that makes both of us Moms. It’s a simple fact, really.

  • turner

    Good for you, Debora. I agree totally.