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Advice on teachers' reactions to gay parents please...

(62 Posts)
Whoooosh Mon 12-Feb-07 10:33:30

We are starting to look at pre-schools and schoold for dd and obviously want to go together to meet teachers etc.
Just wondered if anyone has any positive/negative or hopefully neutral experiences with teachers with regard to same sex parents?

I guess I am most concerned about dd being bullied and want to know how the school would handle it.

Ladymuck Mon 12-Feb-07 10:56:27

tbh I don't think that you'll have an issue with teachers, but more likely with other parents who pass their prejudices onto their children.

I would probably steer clear of church schools as ime many of the pupils seem to come from a very strong 2 heterosexual parent family model - even children from single parents families stand out (eg at local CofE, only one child in the whole of infants doesn't have 2 parents living at home). You may find a similar issue with certain private schools as well. At pre-school it is harder to judge without visiting and enquiring, as just because a pre-school is set in a church hall say, it doesn't necessarily follow that it is a church preschool.

I would be upfront with the teachers, and ask how they would deal with issues such as Mothers Day/Fathers Day/Valentines (which equally can be issues for lone parents, or step families etc). Ask directly how they would deal with bullies, and see what resources they have in terms of social stories with non-traditional families (eg story books). In late pre-school/reception the topic of "About myself" is usually covered, and again I would enquire as to how the teachers would handle this and see if you are happy with their approach. In ds's school this involved brining in pictures ofhis family and talking about them to the rest of the class.

As you're probably aware, the sexual orientation equality regs should come into force in April, so schools and preschools themselves cannot discriminate. Whilst the regs aren't final I understand that it is assumed that they will be sufficient to ensure that schools are even more alert to the possibility of discrimination against children of gay parents, and so should be thinking about how they would support your family.

hana Mon 12-Feb-07 10:58:26

speaking as a teacher there wouldn't be an issue

peachygirl Mon 12-Feb-07 11:03:46

I've taught a pupil with same sex parents and have had no problems.
I did ask about what to do with mothers / fathers day cards but at the end of the day as long as the child was cared for and nurtured it made no difference to me how the family was made up. I had a very good relationship with this particular set of parents as have every other member of staff who has taught their child

Whoooosh Mon 12-Feb-07 11:06:00

Thank you Ladymuck for such comprehensive response-I think you are absolutely right,the parents may well be a bigger issue.

When we wanted dd Christened I got the full hell,fire and brimstone treatment from the local vicar so suspect you are right about church schools.Very sad for me as I went to one and really like the values associated with them.

Hana-hope all teachers are like you.

I can probably cope witht he sniggers at the school gates but will nto have dd subjected to discrimination because of us...

Racism is deemed wholly unacceptable yet homophobia is alive and well,despite,I fear,the new legislation.

ChipButty Mon 12-Feb-07 11:10:06

I would hope teachers would treat you with the same respect and professionalism with which they treat heterosexual parents. I have had pupils in my care who have had gay parents and it makes no difference whatsoever - both of us are concerned with the needs of the child. There was no bullying either because the classmates had known that the girl had two mummies from a young age and it was just accepted. Good luck to you.

Marina Mon 12-Feb-07 11:10:13

I am sorry to hear you had all that grief from the vicar and the local church community whooosh
FWIW, some church schools are supportive to gay parents. Have a friend who is an active churchgoer (her partner isn't but we all know her well ) and their ds attends the local church school with no hassle at all from the school itself. Parish priest is also warmly supportive - christening was a happy occasion all round.
Sadly I think the few problems they have encountered have come from other children and parents. Agree with ladymuck and hana that teachers should not be a problem.
Good luck

DimpledThighs Mon 12-Feb-07 11:13:50

In my son's class there is a boy with same sex parents. We have known them since preschool and it has never been an issue - only once did one very religious mother say something and she was heavily repremanded by the others. It honeslty has never been an issue. It is a church school and I know her really well and she has never noticed any problems at all.

My lst bos was also a same sex couple and I think the school contacted her when they were going to do reproduction just to let her know she might get soem questions but tht is all.

I think there are a lot more open minded people out there than prejudiced ones. I would not see or hear discrimination aganist people in your position and I would not tolerate it. Most people I know are the same.

don't worry

WeaselMum Mon 12-Feb-07 11:21:07

A few years ago I taught one girl who had two mums. She had absolutely no problems in school as far as I know.

I do remember one of the other staff telling me "X has lesbian mums, you know" (he didn't know I was gay) and waiting for a response. He was a bit of an idiot to be honest and I'm sure just wanted a gossip...but I do know for a fact he didn't treat this girl or her parents any differently from anyone else in his professional capacity - as you would expect, really.

DS is just starting settling in sessions at nursery. He is just 8 months so we don't have any bullying to worry about just yet, but have been upfront with the nursery staff and have had no questions or comments at all. I think we will just try and handle school in the same way. Good luck with it - hope you find somewhere you're all happy with.

Hallgerda Mon 12-Feb-07 11:39:01

My children's primary school has been working with Schools Out to update the equal opportunities policy and other school policies to include gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans and other discriminated-against groups that don't feature in legislation, so I'm sure you'd be fine with the teachers here. Ladymuck has a good point over other parents passing on their prejudices to their children, but the school really should take a firm line against homophobic insults in the school playground in the same way as they would about racist insults (Ours certainly would - it's in the policy!).

Dottydot Mon 12-Feb-07 20:20:04

Hi Whoooosh! Our ds1 (5) started primary school this year and ds2 (2) is at playgroup and so far (touch wood) we've had very positive experiences.

The school - and playgroup and nurseries where they've been have been great - they always check what we want the boys to make for father's day (which is a card for their Dad, as they see him often!) and we always get cards saying To Mummies on mother's day!

We went to ds1's school before he started, to talk to the headteacher, who reassured us that bullying would never be tolerated and that they already had an older child at the school in a similar family make up!!! (not found out who it is..!).

I think Ladymuck is spot on though with the thing about other parents. Ds1 has certainly come home saying all sorts of stuff - you saw the thread on his announcement that same sex marriage would be banned when he's king... This (we think) came from one of his friends and we suspect that in turn came from the friend's parents - although obviously no way of knowing for sure.

We thought we might have a word with ds1's primary school teacher to ask that if/when they have lessons around families, that she includes an acknowledgment of different family set ups, including 2 Mummies/Daddies. I'm sure she will as she's lovely - so the school's great but unfortunately our children will probably always come across a negative influence once they're out in the big wide world more...

Whoooosh Mon 12-Feb-07 20:53:35

I struggled literally for years with the decision to have a child due to the prejudices he/she may experience.It is only natural we ant to protect our dc's from any of it.
I am delighted by the positive experiences on this thread
DP and I have only "come out" in recent weeks and so this is all new to us.
I sadly used the single parent tag till recently,but owing to problems in the relationship and the positivity we now have to move forward has encouraged me to be open.
I never want dd to feel ashamed or there is a secret in our house so out we are and all carers are key to this.

wotzsaname Mon 12-Feb-07 21:00:22

I would think that any teacher would be pleased to have a child in the class from a caring family unit, however that unit may be formed. If not they do not have the childs interests at heart. Happy children come from happy homes.

Blandmum Mon 12-Feb-07 21:02:02

I wouldn't give it a second thought, over and above realising that the child might be given a tough time, so I'd keep an eye out for bigotry.

Not my buisness who people fall in love with!

Whoooosh Mon 12-Feb-07 21:26:01

If only the world were full of people like you-reality however says there will be people reading this thread and thinking "disgusting"....I just worry about how dd will be made to feel.

Blandmum Mon 12-Feb-07 21:28:26

jeezypeeps, all I want if for kids to come from homes where people love then. Too many that I teach don't

Can't be arsed to worry about what floats people's sexual boats.

HuwEdwards Mon 12-Feb-07 21:30:17

Hey whoosh - am just another parent here giving you some support - wouldn't give a flying fig if the parents of a child at my DDs school nursery were gay.

wotzsaname Mon 12-Feb-07 21:33:38

I agree and think most parents in the school would prefer to see a happy child than one that had to go back from school to an unhappy home. I wouldnt care what the parents get up to as long as the child was cared for and loved.

You will find your way, the same as your child. Just be there for them, thats whats important.

Blandmum Mon 12-Feb-07 21:36:32

And some of the teachers may well be gay themselves. I work with an openly 'out' teacher.

Dottydot Mon 12-Feb-07 21:36:33

Whoooosh - it's hard when you first come out, so you're having to deal with a lot at the moment anyway. But it's brilliant you've done it and I think it's definitely the best thing for your dd, in terms of her security about her family and self confidence. What I love about both my ds's, is that they're able to naturally 'live in both worlds', which sounds bonkers, but what I mean is they're perfectly fine with having 2 Mummies (and a Daddy down the road!), but in games with their friends, at school, playgroup etc., they play games which have a Mummy and a Daddy - which I think is absolutely right - they have to be able to translate their fairly unusual family circumstance into one which most of their friends are in.

Keep being proud and letting people know as and when it comes up and your dd will happily exist in your family set up and those of her friends!

Whoooosh Mon 12-Feb-07 21:44:25

Thank you all for your words of wisdom-it's all still so new and scary!
DD is the light of my life and I just want to do the"right thing".
Dottydot-your insight is invaluable and MB-I really do hope all teachers are as enlightened as you.

Christie Mon 12-Feb-07 22:06:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hester Mon 12-Feb-07 22:28:57

My dd is still too young for me to have had to deal with this yet, but the best advice I got (from another lesbian mother) was to pick a school that takes bullying - all bullying - very seriously and acts on it immediately.

I also think Ladymuck's post is excellent advice.

Good luck!

Whoooosh Mon 12-Feb-07 22:33:29

Thank you all for you advice and support.DD is only 21mts but time is flying and I am trying to plan as much as I can to make her life run as smoothly as any other child.

I really do appreciate all your input.

Greenblock Tue 13-Feb-07 19:12:32

Hello, there is a girl in my form who has two mums (tbh I'm not sure which is her biological mother (sorry if that isn't the right term)). She arrived mid year because of bullying in her last school but there has been very little problems since (I am talking about secondary school). Two incidents standout:
- both her mums come to parents evenings. after the last one, one of her subjectteachers commented in the staff room that they shouldn't because it leaves her open to comments from other kids. All of the other teachers present disagreed.
- a boy in the year group made an insensitive comment to her in the corridor between lessons. Interestingly, it was more about her conception ("were you made in a test tube?") rather than her parents. In response to this, he got beaten up by one of the hardest kids in the year, his mother voluntarily came into school to apologise for his comments and now it seems the rest of the year group dislike him for being mean. They are all very keen to stand up for this girl generally. I was very pleasantly surprised by this (except obviously can't condone the violence).
My points (rambling though they are!) is that it seems that for the majority it is not an issue and further more, the majority are keen not only to not make it an issue but to make it difficult for others to try.
It made me proud of my kids, it really did.
Anyway, long post. But I think you will find most teachers really supportive. And by the time your children are in secondary school it will be really passe!

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