Join this year’s IFED celebration and help strengthening our call for representation of family diversity in the educational systems all across the globe.
Despite the challenges arising from the Covid-19 crisis, the International Family Equality Day (IFED) will be celebrated joyfully on the 3rd of May, with this year’s motto focusing on the need to integrate the idea of family diversity in the education system. Since its beginnings in 2012, IFED has grown into a worldwide movement: Last year’s edition was commemorated in a staggering 50 countries and 117 cities.
Getting engaged, becoming visible
Up until now, IFED celebrations have seen rainbow families and their friends come together in various ways, be it in large gatherings in public parks, be it in cozy get-togethers in private backyards. This year, the IFED family will make a virtue of necessity and use the means of modern technology to unite. “Thankfully, there now are many possibilities to meet virtually while being safe at home”, says IFED Co-President Derricia Castillo-Salazar from Belize. “More than ever, we’ll take advantage of the opportunities provided by social media – not only with regard to spending time together, but also with regard to spreading our message.“ She encourages the IFED community to get engaged online, to fill social media with both pictures showing the beauty of family diversity as well as recommendations for children’s books depicting rainbow families. “Let us be seen. Let us be visible and empower each other.“
Importance of being validated
While visibility and representation of family diversity is important in general, it especially is key within the educational system. “School experiences shape a child’s identity”, says IFED board member Matcha Phorn-in from Thailand. “It is crucial for young LGBTIQ+ people as well as children being raised in rainbow families to have reference models, to see themselves and their families reflected and validated in the school narrative, in textbooks, educational materials and the language being used by teachers and other professionals in the field.” For these reasons, the IFED community aims at raising awareness for the need to make schools safe and inclusive learning environments where everyone can thrive. “We call on pedagogical experts and school policy makers to respect and protect each child’s right to non-discrimination and to go beyond the traditional notion of family”, says IFED Board Member Lana Woolf from Australia. “Otherwise, the door is open for misunderstanding, discrimination, exclusion and even violence. “
Be creative, celebrate your family
A great way to strive for these goals is creating family trees that reinvent and extend the concept of family. “As LGBTIQ+ people, we can paint and draw our very own family trees, brightly colored and emblazoned with inclusive language representing each and everyone”, says newly elected IFED-board member Benny Odongo from Kenya. “We encourage rainbow families around the world to send us their family trees so that we can share and be proud of them.“ With regard to other ways of getting involved in this year’s IFED celebrations, make sure to join your friends online, to exchange stories and encourage one another, to upload pictures of your families and to get the official IFED hashtags out into the world: #MyFamilyTree #FamilyDiversityInEducation #IFED2020. We look forward to seeing you next month!
GET INSPIRED: The “Who’s in Your Family Tree?” poster was designed in 2005 to celebrate the diversity of families within which children live and thrive. This bilingual (English/French) poster was inspired by stories from children living in LGBTQ-led families about the “Family Tree” exercises they do in school. Typically these exercises assume that all children live in conventional nuclear families. The fill-in-the-blank format with spaces for a “mom,” “dad,” “maternal grandparents,” and so on, often exclude children of LGBTQ-led families. This resource is made available from the LGBTQ Parenting Network, a program of Sherbourne Health.