The new year is starting off on a grim note for the world. The escalating tension between the U.S. and Iran. Bushfires destroying an estimated billion animals in Australia. Earthquakes in Puerto Rico leaving nearly a million people without power. Families still detained and children separated from parents at our southern border. Continued incidents of violent racism and anti-Semitism. A federal administration that seems bent on rolling back protections for LGBTQ people. Add in the personal struggles and simple to-do lists that we each have and things can feel overwhelming. I don’t have solutions, but I have found a few recent signs of progress for LGBTQ parents and our children.
Five more states — Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Oregon — will this year join California in adding LGBTQ history to the public-school curriculum. Even outside these states, resources are growing for teaching about LGBTQ issues and history. Newsela, an online service that aggregates news articles and historical documents for classroom use, in December launched the Newsela LGBTQIA+ Studies Collection, with content for various grade levels. Newsela says its overall resources now serve 90 percent of schools in the U.S., reaching 25 million students and over two million teachers.
After the school district in Kalamazoo, Michigan received complaints from three parents about LGBTQ-inclusive books in its diversity initiative, administrators decided to focus the books in the initiative solely on issues of racial and ethnic diversity. A public outcry, however, convinced the board to change its mind, and the program will now include books on LGBTQ, disability and socioeconomic topics as well.
Illinois is updating its birth certificate system to be more accurate for parents of all gender identities. As residents Myles Brady-Davis and his wife Precious Brady-Davis found out when they had their child in December, currently, the gestational parent can be only named as “Mother/Co-Parent”; the other parent must be “Father/Co-Parent.” Myles gave birth to their baby, but identifies as transmasculine and the child's father. Precious, a transgender woman, identifies as the mother. With the help of Lambda Legal, the Brady-Davis’ reached out to the Department of Public Health to ask that their child’s birth certificate correctly reflect their relationships to the child. As Lambda explained on its blog, incorrect information would be “a clear mistake that could compromise the family’s safety because of the confusion it might create.” The state confirmed they have been working since October on updating the system to more accurately reflect the identities of all parents; the work is not yet done, but in the meantime, they will issue an accurate certificate to the Brady-Davises, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Last year, Rhode Island failed to pass legislation that would revise outdated statutes and make it easier for parents of any gender, married or not, to establish legal parentage of a child born through assisted reproduction. Supporters of the changes aren’t giving up, though. A coalition of Rhode Island parents, with the support of LGBTQ and family advocacy organizations, in December announced the launch of Rhode Islanders for Parentage Equality (RIPE) to push for passage of the legislation this year.
This year’s GLAAD Media Award nominees include a record 10 shows selected for the Outstanding Kids & Family Programming category, reflecting the increased number of LGBTQ characters in children’s television. GLAAD tells us that the category grew “as a result of an increase in LGBTQ images across the kids and family television programming and an increase in GLAAD’s work to advocate for inclusion in this genre.” The nominees are: Andi Mack (The Disney Channel); The Bravest Knight (Hulu); High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Disney+); The Loud House (Nickelodeon); “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” Arthur (PBS); Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling (Netflix); She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix); Steven Universe: The Movie (Cartoon Network); “A Tale of Two Nellas,” Nella the Princess Knight (Nick Jr.); and Twelve Forever (Netflix). Maybe next year they'll even have enough entries to offer separate categories for both series and individual episodes, as they do for grown-up television.
Summer may seem far away for many of us, but registration is now open for the 26th annual Family Week, the world’s largest gathering of LGBTQ families, July 25-Aug. 1 in Provincetown. More than just a vacation, Family Week has been a vital source of community, inspiration and support for thousands of families for more than a quarter-century now. Visit ptownfamilyweek.com for details.
And in international news, Sanna Marin on December 10 became Finland’s youngest prime minister, its third female premier, and the youngest sitting leader in the world. She also has two moms — she “was raised by a single mother who later entered a same-sex relationship,” reported the Guardian.
Will the good news this year outweigh the bad? That remains to be seen. For many of us, much of the answer depends on the outcome of the presidential election — but November is a long time away. Until then, we can take heart that there is progress being made for our families despite the obstacles. More importantly, we can listen to our kids’ questions and concerns about the state of our country and our world. We may not have all the answers, but we can at least help our children see that there are still reasons to hope. We can assist them in finding their own strengths and ways of making a difference as we face the future together. Here’s to a good year for us all.
Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (mombian.com), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory for LGBTQ parents.