Any student transferring schools can tell you that the experiences they face can be terrifying and exciting at the same time. But when Kiara, 14, and her sister, Natasha, 13, transferred Chicago public schools last November, the ridicule they experienced was anything but welcoming.
The girls’ mom, LaKessha, says that while it first started with name calling, it has turned into pushing and fighting. "We’re at our wit’s end," she says.
That’s because Kiara and Natasha, whose last name is not being used to protect their privacy, come from a family whose parents are lesbian.
Unfortunately, Kiara and Natasha’s experiences are similar to those of many of the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, a recent report says.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network report describes the mistreatment LGBT families felt from their school community. The report stated that 53 percent of parents felt "various forms of exclusion," while 23 percent of students felt "unsafe around other students."
"This is a problem in every kind of community in every part of the country," says Kevin Jennings, GLSEN’s executive director. "These are good parents who try very hard to be involved ... and unfortunately the other parents tend not to support them."
Janean, the girls’ second mom, says a possible solution would be to include classes to teach children the various forms of alternative families.
Currently, GLSEN is working with its local chapters to provide training sessions for educators on how to address biased behavior against LGBT parents.
Parents or children who need assistance should speak with their school’s principal or contact Tina Fakhrid-Deen of COLAGE Chicago at (773) 548-3349. COLAGE is a national group of children, youth and adults with lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender parents.
For more information, visit www.glsen.org or www.colage.org