RAINBOW Families, an organisation that supports LGBTQI+ parents and their children, has generated resources unique to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer families.
The organisation has been at the forefront of advocating for LGBTQI+ parents since its establishment in 2016, notably producing 15 digital parenting guides.
Executive Director Ashley Scott is proud of the support system that Rainbow Families created.
“There was nothing in the space to support LGBTQI+ parents,” he said.
“Our families have very specific issues that they face outside of the rest of the LGBTQI+ community.
“We realised there was a lot of need in the community.”
The Trans and Gender Diverse Parents Guide is one of these support books, which spotlights nine LGBTQI+ parents and their experiences with complex family dynamics after transitioning.
Each storyteller responds to questions concerning identity, grief, and truth-telling in colloquial prose, enabling the reader to feel part of the conversation.
Personal recounts include communicating to children about transitioning parents and juggling a change in family roles.
Heidi, a lesbian, non-binary, trans-femme is one of these storytellers.
“We decided to tell them [the kids] over school holidays,” she said in the guide.
“I wanted to tell each of them in the way I thought best.”
Rainbow Families has identified the distinctive needs of LGBTQI+ parents and how these differ from nuclear families.
The Lactation Guide spotlights this by providing information on induced lactation, co-feeding and chest-feeding techniques which are more relevant to LBTQI+ parents, compared to traditional breastfeeding advice.
Carolyn, a mother in a same-sex relationship, shares her induced lactation story in the information guide.
“I saw a GP who also does lactation consulting… she was willing to prescribe me medication,” she said.
“Breastfeeding has become a really important part of my identity as a mother.”
Roy, a female to male transgender depended on donated human milk to feed his son, Jack.
“I have been able to provide Jack with human milk because of an extraordinary online community of parents who share their excess milk,” he said in the lactation guide.
“I have been blown away by the generosity of other parents.”
A recent study at Deakin University found almost a third of children in rainbow families struggle to find books that represent families ‘like theirs.’
The results, published in 2020, show 30 per cent of respondents could not find LGBTQI+ children’s books that reflect their families, even though 100 per cent said doing so was crucial.
This same representation gap is existent in parenting resources, according to Mr Scott.
“The invisibility of our families affects our ability to understand the needs of LGBTQI+ parents,” he said.
The guides are a first step in representing LGBTQI+ parents and celebrating the unique experiences of rainbow families in mainstream society.
Tia Haralabakos is a Media Communications student at Monash University specialising in Journalism and human rights. She is interested in the multi-faceted landscape of digital media, particularly addressing challenges to online reporting like diversity and content moderation. Tia’s journalistic interests include human rights and social affairs.