Making Room for All Families

June 14, 2006

On Wednesday, June 14, Wheelock College will join government officials and noted experts in early childhood education to celebrate the Massachusetts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Early Childhood Initiative from 6 to 8 p.m. at Cambridge City Hall.

Leaders of the groundbreaking “Making Room in the Circle” course, which focuses on how early childhood educators can create welcoming environments for all families, including LGBT families, will be joined by Mayor Kenneth Reeves, City Councilor Denise Simmons, Senator Jarrett Barrios, Rep. Alice Wolf and Dr. Valora Washington.

The LGBT Early Childhood Initiative, which came together as an advisory group for “Making Room in the Circle,” is a consortium of early childhood professionals, including childcare providers, program administrators, college faculty, childcare resource and referral agency professionals, and others concerned with the education and care of young children and with supporting families to promote children’s healthy development. It encourages adoption of the course in Massachusetts colleges and universities, advocates for inclusive policies at the local and state level, and is a voice for inclusive practices in early childhood settings across the state.

“Making Room in the Circle” was developed in California by Parent Services Project, and grew out of the work of the LGBT ECE Initiative of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was created to address the need in ECE settings to acknowledge that many children come from families with parents or other close relatives who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT), and to address the bias, discrimination, and invisibility that these children and their families may encounter.

Cambridge Community Partnerships for Children (CCPC) and Wheelock College are currently piloting “Making Room in the Circle” as well as the training-of-trainers component of the course. Wheelock faculty are reviewing the course with the intention to offer it as a for-credit course for Wheelock students and community professionals.

“Making Room in the Circle” is the first course of its kind in the U.S., originating in San Francisco and being replicated here in Massachusetts. It offers educators hands-on tools to create welcoming and inclusive environments for children and families from all backgrounds, including those from LGBT families; and it offers anti-bias strategies for children and adults in the ECE setting.

The nationally acclaimed photo exhibit, “Love Makes a Family,” which shows diverse families from many parts of the country, and challenges assumptions about the definition of family, will be on display.

Public policymakers, early childhood education professionals, families with children, members of the press, and friends are encouraged to attend.

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