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Families in the Desert Event Draws Out and Proud LGBT Families

Families in the Desert Event Draws Out and Proud LGBT Families

Families headed by GLBT parents need to come out urged Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler. The leader of the national organization that advocates for the rights of GLBT parents made the call to action during her State of the Movement address to attendees of the annual Families in the Desert conference of gay and lesbian parents, held in Indian Wells, Calif., September 31 – October 2.

Families headed by GLBT parents need to come out urged Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler. The leader of the national organization that advocates for the rights of GLBT parents made the call to action during her State of the Movement address to attendees of the annual Families in the Desert conference of gay and lesbian parents, held in Indian Wells, Calif., September 31 – October 2.

“Family is the single most defining issue in everyone’s lives. When we talk about families, it’s universal. Sharing stories about our families helps people get to know us as full human beings,” says Chrisler.

One way to “out” a family and to advance social policy is by coming out on forms, explained Chrisler. When governmental and institutional forms, such as passports, student aid applications and even field trip permission slips from a child’s school ask for “mother” and “father,” Chrisler advises same-sex parents to ask for revisions to “Parent 1” and “Parent 2,” to more accurately reflect the status of today’s modern family.

According to Chrisler, there are at least 350 governmental forms that request parental or marital status and at least 60 of those forms are significantly important, such as applications for a social security number and forms for government services.

To assist in revising forms, Family Equality Counsel is launching a Scan and Send program in which parents provide copies of outdated forms to the organization for collection and analysis. The initiative will help identify patterns of bias and help prioritize the organization’s efforts to contact the offending groups to change the forms.

“It will be a slow process to correct these forms, as many institutions need to update software programs, and their current databases cannot accommodate the changes we want, but our goal is to eventually have all of these forms reflect who we are as families.”

Chrisler also urged attendees at the conference to tell their stories publicly to friends, family, co-workers and others, via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. In addition, the Family Equality Council developed a forum, “Share Your Story,” on their web site homepage where families can tell about their families and submit family photos.

“Real faces, real names and real stories make a real difference. Seeing and hearing from our families puts a face and name with a concept like hospital visitation rights. When non-LGBT Americans can’t associate our faces and our voices with the need for family equality, our families remain abstract and stereotyped, and that is all hurtful and dangerous for us as individuals and as a movement,” said Chrisler. “Let’s change that. Let’s make it personal.”

In addition to motivational programming and the State of the Movement address by Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler, families enjoyed a family picnic, movie night and other family activities at the annual Families in the Desert event.

Here are some of the out and proud families that attended the event.

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Mike having breakfast with his grandmother Glenda, who came to Families in the Desert show to her support and pride.

Twins pose proudly with their two loving moms.

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Kids show off the beautiful painted faces at the Movie Night extravaganza.

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Jennifer Chrisler (Executive Director) and Jen Meyers-Light (Director of Advancement) happily greeting families at Family Movie Night, one of our favorite events during the Families in the Desert weekend.

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K. Pearson Brown