Family Matters Conference returns to University of the Sciences

Family Matters Conference returns to University of the Sciences

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After moving around to different locations the previous seven years, an annual conference for LGBT families will return next month to its 2016 location.

Philadelphia Family Pride’s Family Matters Conference will be held Oct. 7 at the University of the Sciences in the McNeil Science and Technology Center.

“Everyone was very happy with the location last year so we decided to have it at the same place this year as well,” said PFP Executive Director Stephanie Haynes, noting the location’s parking spaces and public transit access.

Changes

While the location is the same, the eighth-annual event will include several differences such as the conference ending one hour earlier, at 3 instead of 4 p.m.

“It’s a long day for the kids, especially when they’re not in their usual nap environment. Over the years, we’ve seen — in the afternoon — a drop-off in attendance,” Haynes said.

With the loss of that extra hour, PFP will not host a panel of teens with LGBT parents. Haynes said interest in this particular event had declined in recent years, especially as support and resources, such as YouTube, became more ready available.

“It’s [easier] to access those stories than it was eight years ago,” Haynes said. She added that PFP still wants to hold the event in another setting in the future.

Programming this year will also include new workshops, such as one session encouraging same-sex couples to perform second-parent adoptions for non-biological children. Additionally, documentarian Laura Zaylea will host a screening of her documentary “Building Blocks: Interactive Conversations with LGBTQ Families.” The documentary serves as a resource guide for prospective LGBT parents and focuses on topics such as choosing parent names, family-making methods and legal matters.

Keynote speaker

Haynes said PFP wanted to center the voices of PFP parents at this year’s conference and she is “really excited” to announce fellow member Heath Fogg Davis as the keynote speaker.

The trans man, who is also a professor of political science at Temple University and member of the city’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, published a book entitled “Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?” earlier this year.

“Not all LGB folks have a great understanding of trans experience,” Haynes said. “[We will give attendees] some exposure to the topics that he covers in his book and he’ll relate them to parenting and our families.”

Davis and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter and a 1-month-old son. The couple has been going to a new and expectant parents group within PFP for the past few years.

“I think PFP is so great in terms of giving a place to relax, be yourself, ask questions and know that you’re among other community members,” Davis said.

Davis added that he is looking forward to writing his speech, entitled “Parenting Through the Bureaucracy of Gender.” He said that when he presents about his book, people will often ask him about how he plans to tackle LGBT issues with his children. However, he said, “there’s no real answer.”

“I’m looking forward to just talking about what it’s like to be a queer parent navigating everything from birth certificates, sex markers, gender identity, how your kid goes to daycare and what the atmosphere is like in terms of gender, expectations and stereotypes,” Davis said. “I definitely don’t plan on presenting any concrete answers for how to parent. I don’t pretend to have those answers.”

With his speech, Davis said he hopes to bring issues of gender into the foreground, creating conversations about why sex or gender identity should be specified on documents and in overall social settings.

Davis noted his children’s needs are “basic” at the moment and it remains to be seen how they will navigate these topics.

“Our daughter is 2 now and, as our kids grow up, we’ll be thinking about ways to have age-appropriate conversations with them about us, our family and the world,” Davis said.

However, he noted how PFP helps families such as his.

“Our lives are incredibly hectic and it’s hard,” he said of parents in general. “You find yourself, especially on the weekends, still in your pajamas [and] you haven’t really gone outside. You can feel very isolated. Having the structure of the potlucks with the PFP groups, knowing that you have that to get you out of your house, I think, is really [great].”

Philadelphia Family Pride’s Family Matters Conference will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 7 in the McNeil Science and Technology Center at the University of the Sciences, 600 S. 43rd St. Tickets can be purchased on a sliding scale at https://philadelphiafamilypride.org/family-matters-conference/


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