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Black LGBT Moms Take us to School!

featuring interviews gathered by Epsilon Xi Gamma, Inc.

Among those under age 50 who are living alone or with a spouse or partner, nearly half of LGBT women (48%) are raising a child under age 18. Same gender loving couples of color are more likely to be raising children and face economic and racial barriers that can make raising a family more difficult. With the hustle and bustle of the first week of school behind us, we sat down with three lesbian mothers of color to get an inside look at the first day of school, health insurance options, and what it's like parenting at an intersecting identity.

Shayla, College Freshman, and High School Junior

How does being a mother inform your choices about health care and health care access? It is a major decision for me. As far as looking for employment I key in on healthcare providers. I had a younger child, who had asthma. What do packages look like, how easy are the benefits, are the benefits immediate or do I have to wait.

What was your experience in getting your children covered in health insurance as an LGBT Parent? To be honest I've never had struggles. Before I was blessed with good coverage on my job and we had Medicaid, the program offered good access to doctors. There have been times when being on Medicaid would have been better, because of copays for medicine. There were several times where copays were outrageous.

So How was the first day of school? Any tips on the best way to prep for school? It gets easier when they're older. Teenagers tend to stay up late, so like 2 weeks before you have to start having the talks about going to be earlier. It's the first thing I think about, high school students have it easier when it comes to prep, except for all the fees for sports, fundraisers, school events etc. I start thinking about these things about a month before school starts.

What advice do you have for other mothers who identify as lesbian? I have always believed when it comes to relationships, being a lesbian, or being gay. You have to treat yourself and your relationship no different than heterosexual relationships. If you approach it like it's no different then that's the right step, the hardest part of my life was when I was hiding who I was. I had older kids when I came out, they can sense it, and they know. If you're true and authentic with yourself, then people will respect it as much as you respect yourself and set your boundaries. I am not a broadcast type or rainbow wearer, but I am very vocal about people respecting who I am and my family. It is very important to teach your kids self-acceptance.

Do you know of any local organizations that offer support for gay/lesbian parents?I am sure there are some, but I don't know of any, but I wish there were more organizations that catered to parents of gay and lesbian kids in our community. I see so much homeless gay and lesbian youth and no one speaks on it, especially in the Black community. There has to be more education and support and it's a huge problem.

Studies show that LGBT parents are highly involved in their children’s education and activities, yet often feel invisible to school administration and culture. Have you ever felt this way? I am very involved in my children's activities, plays, football, competitions. I would say don't let anyone distract you from being involved in your children's activities. Support your kids, I chose not to do PTA, but I am very much active and my kids see my face.

Erika, Pre-Kindergarten

How does being a mother inform your choices about health care and health care access?  When it comes to me for picking a doctor, I am a parent and a doctor would have to be convenient. I need to still be able to pick him up so I prefer a doctor's office close to his school and one who could accommodate later hours or Sat. appointments.

What was your experience in getting your children covered in health insurance as an LGBT parent? It was very easy to obtain healthcare for my child. The only issue I've had is when my partner takes Tre to the doctor, I have issues because we are two women. Having to explain or go through the unnecessary red tape to ensure my partner can also take care of him is difficult.

So How was the first day of school? Any tips on the best way to prep for school? The first day of school was challenging. He doesn't understand why he's being left with strangers. I have to do a little coaching to say what's about to happen because he's used to his routine with me.

 What advice do you have for other mothers who identify as lesbian? Make sure you find balance, be fair. Your life choices are not your child's choices. They may not understand how your life choices will affect them. So be honest with your children and let them know what could happen. Be a support system.

Do you know of any local organizations that offer support for gay/lesbian parents? I do not know of any that offer support. I think an organization that caters to lesbian community and have a Mommys Day Out. Typically when you get in these groups the women are heterosexual, there are no dads, so it'd be nice to have people who can relate to you and your children.

Studies show that LGBT parents are highly involved in their children’s education and activities, yet often feel invisible to school administration and culture. Have you ever felt this way? When I do things with my partner at my son's school, who's masculine presenting, they often ignore her. Don't even speak to her. There needs to be respect and you sometimes have to push the issue and force them to see you have two parents standing here.

Te'Aira, Day Care

How does being a mother inform your choices about health care and health care access? Healthcare is very important. If I'm sick I can't work and I can't pay bills. I stay on top of me and my child's care, because if she's sick, she can't go to school and if she can't go, that means I can't go to work. So I make sure all her shots and vitamins happen.

What was your experience in getting your children covered in health insurance as an LGBT Parent?  Because I am a feminine lesbian, people don't really question my sexuality. Plus I am single and I don't make a lot of money so qualifying for Medicaid wasn't difficult with my income, although I wish I made more money.

So How was the first day of school? Any tips on the best way to prep for school? Make sure your kids eat well. I cook for my child almost every night. Make sure you have the back pack, clothes, and everything ready. And paperwork! (Lol) Oh my God, make sure you have all the stuff the school needs like shots and medical records or you can have a big hassle.

What advice do you have for other mothers who identify as lesbian? 

Always be yourself, be true to who you are. Don't get discouraged about the world judging you.

Do you know of any local organizations that offer support for gay/lesbian parents?Yes, Epsilon Xi Gamma, the members tell you so much information you didn't know about.

Studies show that LGBT parents are highly involved in their children’s education and activities, yet often feel invisible to school administration and culture. Have you ever felt this way? No, I'll say not yet, which is good. Because Laya is so young we haven't faced sexuality issues.

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