Red Balloon celebrates inclusivity all year long; Pride Month and some chats in the office this year have got us thinking about families and all the wonderful shapes they take.
Type ‘Family’ into Google images and you’ll be shown a stream of stock photos depicting smiling, hugging and laughing families. Interestingly though, these families all look very similar. A mum, a dad, a couple of kids (most often a boy and a girl) and sometimes if we’re lucky we get grandparents or maybe an uncle!
But it’s 2022 and most of us know that families come in every shape and size. From chosen families to single-parent households to foster families, the nuclear family should no longer represent all families.
A Short History of Same-Sex Adoption
It was 2002 before same-sex couples got the right to adopt. The Adoption and Children Act, enabling same-sex and unmarried couples to jointly adopt, had strong pushback from those claiming concern over the degradation of the institution of marriage, family life, and above all, concern for the children (Stonewall).
However, the truth is that a happy family can take many forms. At Red Balloon, we see wonderful, supportive families consisting of one parent, two mums or two dads, a network of family members, queer children and so much more. We emphasise that the important thing for a happy and healthy child is a connection with safe and trusted adults and peers.
Red Balloon staff Madeleine has grown up with lesbian parents and says:
“Besides the obvious discrimination and lack of understanding from a handful of my peers, the most noticeable differences between my upbringing and those I’ve observed around me have been the small ways society assumes what a family is. It’s the school forms that ask for ‘mother’s name’ and ‘father’s name’, the father’s day card-making sessions, or the allusions to what ‘mums’ and ‘dads’ do. My parents were inventive and my extended family is a chosen family – those who are not related by blood but are nonetheless family members because of the love, consistency and support they’ve given to me and my parents, Father’s Day was ‘Aunties Day’, and it was actually quite a shock to learn that not everyone had two mums. People can get caught up in the small details of what I call each parent, how revolutionary having two mums is or who my ‘actual’ parents are. But I feel very lucky to have had two supportive parents helping me with homework, taking me to school and helping me to find my place in the world.”
Support for LGBTQ+ staff/students at Red Balloon
At Red Balloon, families look like Madeleine’s. Families have queer children, separated parents, and biological and adopted relatives! It’s important to us that our communities are reflected and represented in our curricula too. For example, our biology lessons have specific and clear representations of trans people. Our PSHEE lessons are fully LGBTQ+ inclusive. We use the preferred pronouns of our students, staff and parents. And most importantly, staff are always flexible and ready to continue learning with students and families. This comes not from a political agenda, but from a belief that every young person should be supported to become their happiest, healthiest, and truest self.
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