Putting your child in the hands of someone else is always a bit nerve-wracking, but for LGBT parents, connecting with caregivers that foster inclusivity and use their influence for allyship can be especially important.
All parents want their children to feel comfortable and understood by teachers and staff and have a sense of peer support, but finding an environment that’s rid of social stigmas and seeks to lovingly include and normalize all types of families for young people still requires some investigative work. Before you start applying to local facilities, enlist the help of this trusty guide.
Pen Your Preferences
When it comes to any big decision, knowing your ideal scenario beforehand helps in hatching a plan to get to your preferred destination.
Start by listing your nonnegotiable factors and agreeing upon what matters to you as a couple: Do you want to see varied sexual orientation represented in the staff (gay, transgender, bisexual, etc.)? Does the type of curriculum used (if in a classroom setting) matter to you or your partner? Do you want an individual or a facility that participates in advocacy and allyship and invites students and their loved ones to join? (For example, do they give to organizations like The Family Acceptance Project or participate in Pride month?)
Answering these questions will help focus your Google search and hopefully save you some time. In addition, take into consideration your child’s age and how long they will be under the supervision of the facility, as these details may factor into what’s a must and what’s a preference.
Start the Interview Process
Whether you’re looking for an in-home caregiver or an outside center, you’ll be putting on your boss hat and conducting interviews to find the best match.
You can get a sense of whether or not you have shared goals and values by checking out the website or professional page up front. A friendly caregiver or facility with an inclusive environment will have thought about the introductory process as a whole and will probably make it clear along the way that they are welcoming of all families and any questions you may have as well.
Things to look for online or in-person include:
Once you find a few options to consider, set up a time to discuss your questions and take note of their willingness to be open to your thoughts and concerns as a parent.
The childcare support website Parent Aware gives the following question examples to include in your search:
- Do you have any experience caring for children from families similar to ours?
- Do your toys and books reflect a range of families, including LGBTQ families?
- How would you handle questions from other children directed to my child about his/her/their family?
- How do you model and teach about gender roles?
- Do you have LGBTQ staff or staff who are familiar with the LGBTQ community?
- Do staff receive anti-bias training on a regular basis? Do you use an anti-bias curriculum?
- Do you have a formal anti-discrimination policy in place?
- Are you open to learning more?
Don’t be afraid to ask about how staff handle conversations around issues that are relevant to diverse family structures, sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s also worth inquiring how mean words or actions between students are resolved and what course of action is taken to help mediate when necessary. There’s no limit to ensuring your child’s well-being and caring for their developing self-esteem, so ask the hard questions to get the answers you need.
Resources to Get Started
If you need additional information, these organizations offer wellness and family support: