Managing the Outfall of a Plebiscite

These are uncertain times, and it’s currently difficult to say whether or the plebiscite on gay marriage planned by the LNP will even come to pass. The cause of marriage equality is doubtless in for a tough time if it is going to overcome the forces of bigotry that will be arrayed against it. Counsellor Vivien Ray had some insightful comments on the best steps we can take to be prepared.

How are LGBT parents reacting to the possibility of a plebiscite? How are they preparing their children for it?

Children who are intimately involved with this issue may find the entire experience frightening and anxiety-provoking. Conservative voices will be loud, angry, and abusive in the lead-up to a plebiscite, and this could be a scary experience for younger children. The possibility of violence will worry them. Heightened emotions could lead to tense times in schools, and parents may well fear that their children are at risk.

What warning signs should parents watch out for?

Any changes in behaviour could be important. Unusually negative, angry, or abusive responses are a possibility. Children could become withdrawn, experience nightmares, express frightening or unhappy thoughts, or start wetting the bed. Not all children will feel comfortable speaking to their parents about negative experiences they go through. Children who have already made a habit of keeping emotions to themselves may not feel inclined to reach out. Other children, though, may feel the need to express themselves by speaking out – either privately or publically – about their feelings.

What can be done to keep our children safe in the face of anti-equality activities?

One great step you can take is to let your children join the “Resilient Rainbow Kids’ group. Starting on July 30, this organization will give all children a safe place to learn and react to the issues raised by the plebiscite. Children whose families are directly affected and those who aren’t are all welcome. Children who participate will enjoy a greater sense of understanding about the events that they’re going through and the pressures which are being exerted on them and their peers.

Children in the group will get the opportunity to play out potentially-threatening scenarios in a safe environment. The diversity of Rainbow families will be celebrated. Children are encouraged to take home the lessons they learn; parents are also encouraged to get involved. You can help by making sure your children aren’t exposed to age-inappropriate language, by being positive role models, and by bolstering their self-esteem in these trying times. Children don’t need to be hidden from bigotry; they need age-appropriate lessons that teach them what it is and what they should do when confronted by it.

Remember that the way you choose to respond to bigoted situations will become a model for your children’s behaviours and responses. Parents involved in the ‘Resilient Rainbow Kids’ group will receive an informative packet of articles that can help. It shares useful thoughts on teaching kids to deal with homophobic insults, keeping their self-esteem high, and interacting with their schools and educators.

What are the facts regarding same-sex parenting?

In 2013, a study of 500 Australian children being raised by same-sex parents sought to quantify their health and well-being. The results of the work indicate that being raised in a same-sex family has no negative impact on a child’s mental or physical health, and does not alter their behaviour. In fact, children from same-sex families scored above normal for overall health and for family cohesion – a rough measure of family members’ ability to get along with each other.