Mum of two and Co-founder of Equality for Children, Ranae von Meding, reveals what not to do or say to an LGBTQ+ parent.
Living in today's society, most of us are aware that not every person or family fits a mould. I am constantly learning, trying to be a better person, a better parent and I know that I still have a lot to learn. This means educating myself on those who might be different to me.
LGBT+ parents are becoming much more visible, but we are still a very small minority of the population. And as is the case with most minorities, we are often subjected to questions, comments and observations that would not be deemed appropriate for other people. For some reason, when people think you are different or unusual, they sometimes see this as a carte blanche to ask whatever they like.
One thing which is hard about being an LGBT+ parent is the need to constantly come out. You might have to come out several or more times a day. I am always asked about my ‘husband’ and there are only so many times that I can correct people and say ‘actually I have a wife’. Most of the time people ask this out of habit. It’s just an assumption. Nothing more to it. But here is the thing- if we set aside the assumptions, it might make someone's day a little bit easier.
Which leads me to the first thing you shouldn't do around LGBTQ+ parents:
Don’t make assumptions.
Your interpretation of what you see when you meet someone might be entirely different from their actual reality. If someone instead asked me ‘do you have a partner?’ ‘what do they do?’ using gender-neutral language and allowed me to lead the conversation, they would very quickly understand our family set up without me having to correct a false assumption.
Use the word 'parent'.
Don’t assume that a family is headed by a ‘same-sex’ couple. They may not identify as lesbian/gay and one or both parents may be transgender. Using the term parent is much more inclusive and is non-gender specific. Of course, we all identify as different things to our children. I am Mama and my wife is Mom. But the thing we all have in common is that we are parents.
Don’t ask invasive questions about how the baby was born.
If someone wants to tell you the nitty-gritty details of their fertility history, they will. If they don’t offer this information, then it’s quite frankly rude to pry. End of.
Don’t ask who is the Mum/Dad in the relationship.
It’s 2020, both parents regardless of their sex or gender identity can assume roles that may be traditionally masculine/feminine. This is probably one of the most annoying questions I get asked. And to be honest, in our parenting relationship, both my wife and I are very much split on those roles.
It really comes down to this.
If you’re trying to decide if something is appropriate to ask- stop and think. Would you want someone to ask this of you? Would you ask this of a more traditional family or parent?
We can’t all get it right, all of the time. And there have been times when I’ve certainly said or done things that were unintentionally rude. All we can do is to try our best and to do better next time.
Ranae is a proud same-sex mama to her two girls. You can find her on Instagram @ranaevonmeding.