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Featured CEO: Ashley Scott on creating a safe and inclusive space for rainbow families

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Rainbow Families

Ashley Scott is the Executive Director and one of the founders of Rainbow Families. He has been active within the Gay Dads group since his eldest daughter was born in 2012. Ashley enjoys bringing the Rainbow Families community together – seeing families build connections with their community and supporting families to be their most authentic selves.

Rainbow Families Inc supports LGBTQ+ parents and their children. As a charity, registered with the ACNC, Rainbow Families works to reduce discrimination and disadvantage faced by children of LGBTQ+ parents so they can thrive and shine and is a support network for parents and carers, as well as future parents and carers.

Ashley talked to Third Sector News about the importance of providing safe spaces for LGBTQ+ parents and their children:

How does Rainbow Family create an inclusive space for members of the community?

Rainbow Families, an Australian charity that works to reduce discrimination and disadvantage faced by children of LGBTQ+ parents and provide a support network for existing and future queer parents and carers. Our mission is to create a community that champions LGBTQ+ families and prospective parents. The organisation advocates on behalf of the community, as a strong and consistent voice for LGBTQ+ families to address discrimination, raise awareness and promote acceptance

Every year since 2016, Rainbow Families holds a Making Rainbow Families Seminar for members of the LGBTQ+ community interested in starting a family. The seminar provides clarity and confidence to our LGBTQ+ community members through quality education, inspiration and community connection.

The ones who attended the seminar then move through to our antenatal class, lactation class, new parents group, peer support group and then playgroups, building solid long-lasting friendships over time, throughout the various stages of their lives, with other community members.  As kids get older they attend our resilience camps, Halloween discos and then our Youth Council.

Our events and education seminars are all safe and inclusive spaces for our families to be with their community, and build connections with other diverse families.

To ensure the inclusive spaces are created beyond just Rainbow Families events, we partner with other mainstream organisations such as Local Health Districts, and Early Childhood Australia  to help them create more inclusive spaces for diverse families, through education, training and awareness programs.

How do you tackle the glaring issues that same-sex parents face in raising their children?

While the LGBTQ+ community has made undeniable strides over the past few years and society is becoming more and more accepting of diverse families, we still have a long way to go before same-sex parents can co-exist without any prejudices or judgement. The recent incident involving the highly discriminatory contract Citipointe Christina College sent to parents was a clear reminder of how far we still have to go.

To overcome some of these issues, at Rainbow Families we strongly believe in connecting, supporting and empowering our families through various community-led and education programs from antenatal classes, parenting courses, support guides, resilience camps to providing Early Childhood Australia – Family Diversity and Inclusion training and educators webinars on ways to include queer families.

We also focus on the importance of community connection because we know that it reduces feelings of isolation and provides a safe space for our families to be with like-minded, yet diverse families.

Last but not least is our ongoing advocacy work to remove any type of discrimination our families face.

How can we completely erase the prejudices that same-sex parent families face?

Unfortunately, it will take decades of education and advocacy work before we can completely erase the prejudices that our families face. It’s one of those things that we need to keep chipping away at. Although the progress might be slow, it’s still encouraging to see how perceptions and ways of thinking are starting to shift.

Hopefully our children’s generation will be more accepting of diverse families through education from a very young age. Rainbow Families collaborate on and create various resources for schools and early learning centres to help them embed LGBTQ+ inclusion in their schools from very early on.

When it comes to workplaces, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training programs are becoming increasingly popular and in demand, which is great. However while DEI initiatives  will help to reduce some of the discrimination our families currently face in the workplaces, more is needs to be done as a follow through.

Our advocacy work is geared towards calling out the various forms of discrimination our families experience and working to reduce the instances of them happening again in the future. By raising awareness through education, we have the opportunity to build more allies to join us and make our voices lounder in calling out prejudices and discrimination. Self advocacy is exhausting and emotionally taxing, which is why we need our allies to have our backs.

Can you tell us your vision of the future and how you plan to achieve it?

Rainbow Families’ long term vision is to create a world where Rainbow Families as an organisation is unnecessary because our families get treated the exact same way  any other family is. We want to build a nation where all LGBTQ+ families can legally, openly and safely live in full equality.

Our vision is to enable rainbow families, parents and children to thrive and be celebrated by fighting systemic invisibility and discrimination.

We have a number of training programs, resources and events to help us move the needle on our vision such as our Inclusion and Diversity training for adults and organisations. We are also working on a number of projects that are aimed at driving intergenerational change and increasing acceptance and understanding of diverse families.

Our Early Childhood Australia partnership training package which will allow all early childhood centres to provide opportunities for preschoolers to see family diversity which will promote acceptance of our families in the next generation of kids.

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