Making ECEC more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ families
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Advice on making ECEC programs more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ families

Advice on making ECEC programs more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ families

by Freya Lucas

June 15, 2023

In celebration of Pride Month, Dr Kristen Green, Director of Professional Learning Quality at Zero to Three, has shared some advice about how early childhood education and care (ECEC) communities can be made more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ families. 


“Early childhood educators know that we all want and deserve to be seen, heard, and feel valued for who we are, as we are – and that our sense of identity is shaped by and includes our families,” she began. 


“Ensuring every child’s thoughts and feelings about themselves and where they fit are positive and affirming, results in the healthy social-emotional foundation required for all learning and development.”


To ensure that LGBTQIA+ families feel a sense of identity and belonging in ECEC services, Dr Green offers the following advice:  


State loudly and proudly that family diversity is celebrated in your program and curriculum


“Family members feel welcomed, safe, and seen when your program communication tools, your organisational mission and values statements, your intake forms and your online program platform contain inclusive language and images of diverse families including parents who identify as LGBTQIA+,” she said. 


“Affirming their unique family structure tells everyone about your commitment to fostering a safe environment for their children where diversity is valued, and biases are challenged and addressed.”


Dedicate time to getting to know all of your families, including your LGBTQIA+ families 


“Every family culture has its own language and ways of being, including ways of being when in community with others,” Dr Green said. 


“How does the family wish for you to communicate with and about them? Are they comfortable sharing details about their home life and family relationships? What name does their child call them?”


Dr Green also recommends checking in with families to seek permission when communicating personal information. Some family members who identify as LGBTQIA+ may not be “out” in all aspects of their lives. Talking about and respecting family members’ wishes strengthens the partnership and communicates how much you value their family and child.   


Create a program environment that promotes a connected, inclusive community


Dr Green recommends that when a new child or family enrols in the service, a family photo is taken, and that this photo is framed and placed above each child’s locker space. 


“The result will be a family photo gallery that reflects the beautiful diversity and relationships present in every family and in your program community,” she explained. 


“Parents and family members get to know each other (and whose child is whose) through the photos. The photos make it easier for families to get to know each other during program family gatherings – and again – to feel seen and affirmed as a member of your early childhood program community.”


Services can also create family photo books and place them in every classroom.


“The books celebrate every family, invite conversations about different kinds of families and serve as a wonderful tool to answer questions from children about families that differ in some ways from theirs,” she explained. 


For more advice about inclusive practice for LGBTQIA+ families, please see here. 


Dr Green’s original work can be found on the Zero to Three website

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