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More gay and trans parents needed for panel

Mon 19 Sep 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News

OUTLine is looking for people who live in or near Auckland, who are raising children within same sex relationships or involving trans parents, to take part in a ground-breaking Families Commission panel. The Commission is including glbt households in its panel discussions on the nature of families in New Zealand, for the first time. "Our goal is to ensure a broad cross -section of people so that we can get a sense of what it is like for people from the rainbow community and their children growing up in rainbow families," says OUTLine General Manager Vaughan Meneses. "It is important that we also get to hear from gay dads who play an active role in the lives of their children - they may for instance have a child with a lesbian couple and are still part of the family unit," he says. "Although this is about the experience of being a queer parent, it is also about the experience of our children growing up in the current environment with two mums, two dads, or the variation on that theme. This is definitely about queer families, and the emphasis is on the experience of family in same sex or trans parented settings." Meneses says OUTLine appreciates this does not cover every possible configuration of rainbow family life, but it has have to start somewhere and does already have some participants who fall outside of this definition. "Only one parent from each family can be part of the panel - this is to ensure that conversation flows freely and to get as broad a range of families involved as possible," he explains. There will be three forums per year and they will generally run for 2-3 hours on a Sunday with a shared lunch. The Families Commission set us a general topic for discussion, and there is also the opportunity to discuss other topics that the group feels are relevant. OUTLine's aim is to have the same people involved in each panel over the next two years. "In reality there are very few chances for the voices of our families to be heard - our needs are often seen as having less importance or validity and we are often silenced by an overwhelming dominance of the 'traditional' family structures," Meneses says. "This is a chance for us to be heard, and for our families to have a place at the table. Too often the phrase 'family values' is used as a euphemism or blatant representation of an arrogant sense of religious morality. This is a chance for us to challenge this, and the Families Commission has shown real leadership and understanding by actively seeking our voices." In consideration of the time and commitment each participant will receive a $75 voucher for each panel they attend. Our first panel is scheduled for the 2nd October. Cynthia Borne and Vaughan Meneses will be the facilitators of the panels. If you have further questions or would be interested in attending please contact Vaughan at or by phoning OUTLine during business hours on 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE)    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 19th September 2011 - 1:04pm

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