Tag Archives: Milton Reynolds

A Night Out to Remember

By Jessica Israel Cannon

cannonsatprideFor the past five years, Our Family Coalition’s Night Out has been an annual favorite event for the adults in my family. We get dressed up, head into San Francisco and enjoy a festive date night, while supporting OFC’s amazing work.

As an elementary school administrator and a bisexual mom (married to a transgender dad), I know firsthand the power of Our Family Coalition’s professional development to empower educators. They work hard to bring inclusive curriculum to many schools throughout the Bay Area, including the one our son attends. And they are fiercely dedicated to creating truly welcoming environments for all our children and families, helping many of us to embrace and celebrate our full selves.

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One of our favorite Night Out traditions is to invite our son’s teacher to attend the event as our guest. We know how hard these teachers work and inviting them to the Night Out festivities is our 20131129_124541way of saying thank you for all they do for our family. We have been so lucky to have one caring, inclusive educator after another. Each of these dedicated individuals has been completely open to our unique family story and has gone out of her/his way to make sure all families are represented in the classroom. The teachers we have invited share a huge sense of connection with the other guests at the event and are proud to be a part of Our Family Coalition’s work.

My husband Ali and I are so proud of being part of this family that, after our first year as attendees, we decided to become Table Captains. In this capacity, we have been able to share the inspiring stories behind Our Family Coalition with other queer parents, co-workers, extended family and numerous straight allies. I cannot describe the feelings as I sat at the event next to my straight father-in-law two years ago, watching his eyes fill with tears as he realized how much this organization has done for his family. That same year, one straight couple was so moved by what they witnessed at Night Out, that this year they are captaining their own table.

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Best of all, Night Out is fun!  It’s a great opportunity to meet other queer parents and educators, and catch up with old friends who we may not have seen in quite some time. The hotel is exquisite and the food delicious. We also enjoy competing in the Silent Auction knowing that all the money we spend will go to support such a fabulous organization. The emcees, such Marga Gomez and more recently Alec Mapa, bring unforgettable queer humor to the event. And, the awardees, from Jesse Tyler Ferguson to Betty Degeneres to the Bay Area’s own Jill Rose, have been inspiring leaders in promoting visibility and equality for all families.

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Each year, my husband and I leave Night Out feeling a renewed sense of community, commitment and connection. It is an amazing experience to be a part of something that so benefits our family, but is also so much bigger than we are.  Night Out celebrates that work and reminds all of us of the tremendous possibilities for social transformation when people are truly able to celebrate who they are.

We are looking forward to this year’s celebrations and we hope many more families will also be able to share OFC’s amazing work with their own family and friends!

Everyone’s School

Rick
Rick Oculto, Our Family Coalition Education Coordinator

In October and November Our Family Coalition gathered teachers, school administrators, and families in San Francisco and the East Bay to talk about how to address intersectional needs of diverse families and students at school.  They say that you need a happy environment to have a happy home and the same is true for our schools. In order for our students to succeed we need to provide an environment where they do not have to fear being ostracized for who they are, where they come from, or what they believe. Families from different faith structures, have interracial caregivers, speak different languages, are adopted, have LGBTQ parents, are headed by an aunts or grandparents, have one parent, and many other family structures are every bit as deserving to feel welcome and included at their schools.

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The crowd gathered at the East Bay Town Hall 

The events hosted approximately one hundred families and we talked about the importance of representing the diversity of our communities in schools. With topics ranging from racism, homophobia, cyberbullying, transphobia, and cultural identity it was a packed night filled with rich insight on how to address these various issues from a comprehensive and intentional perspective. Guests learned that providing for and understanding different family structures requires visibility of those differences that celebrates rather than segregates; we all win in an environment where we can appreciate one another. Furthermore, the absence of the pressure of not fitting in allows youth to fully embrace their identities and explore their potential without negative prejudice about how that potential should develop. Families were encouraged to participate by sharing their stories and school staff were eager to learn that they had partners in their parent communities to help them with these issues.

The end of each of the events were marked with parents and teachers talking with one another about the needs of their students and what they could do to create a climate that felt supportive and schools that are better suited to help them succeed. The dialogue from these events is only the beginning and with more involved partnerships between schools and parents our schools will only become better. It’s true, the work is far from done and Our Family Coalition is proud to be here every step of the way to educate and advocate for families that are LGBTQ!

Join us as we continue the work throughout the year! Our next event is Everyone’s Story at the Oakland Main Library. We’ll be reading a recommended book from our book list and running a Welcoming Schools lesson plan. Come see what inclusive schools are like in action and learn how to advocate as parents at your own schools!

Rick Oculto