Divorce and Separation · homophobia · lesbian mom

The “Nice” Heterosexual Parenting Education Class Mandated for Divorcing Parents and My Non-hetero Feelings About It…(there are many feelings)

Per the state when two people divorce with children there is a mandatory “Parenting Education Class” that you both have to take. It’s six hours long. In my case taught by two LCSW’s. I’ve talked about sexual orientation as it pertains to me (lesbian mom more hetero-bendable identifying) and I’ll admit I was already salty going into this course because I had recently filled out after school program paperwork where by the end I ripped through the paper when I crossed out “Father’s name” so hard with the pen.

Really. You can’t just put Parent 1 and Parent 2? Really?!

Again, I was already salty. Then I come into this six hour hellacious class where I am taught basic concepts of being nice to the co-parent. And literally it’s a watered down version of what I council clients about daily. Not to say I knew all the content. But let’s say I didn’t learn anything new of value.

However, I will say I was also annoyed the entire six hours because the opener was as follows, “We will be referring to two parents as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. We know there can be other ways that families are made and different parenting situations but in our course this is the vocabulary we will use.” That was as close as they came to acknowledging LGBTQ+ parents. EVER. In six hours.

So literally in the first two minutes of the next six hours of my life I’m already told 1. You’re not important enough for us to use gender neutral language 2. There will be absolutely nothing in this course pertaining to LGBTQ parents and families 3. You are not seen by this course and the state of CT that mandates you take this course. Because w cannot even say the words “Two mom or two dad families” and God forbid anyone uses the word transgender.

I wanted the class to end. I wanted to be done before it even began because I felt like I shouldn’t be there taking up space with all the nice straight people. I may not identify as a lesbian but I sure as hell am a lesbian mom because my co-parent from conception is a woman. And you literally in six hours cannot even once use vocabulary that might validate my existence as a two mom family.

I had a lot of feelings. Clearly. Still do. One of the feelings that generally angers me is shame. In those moments I feel myself looking left and right like does any one know I’m a two mom parent? Can they tell? Because in that opener it was made very clear this is not a safe space for me to be.

I was calming down a bit toward the end counting the seconds. When he used an example that drove me right back up to eye twitching insanity.

“…What would be great in that moment is for the Dad to show up and support the Mom. The kid is being disrespectful and really unruly to Mom, Dad shows up and says, ‘you can’t talk to your mother that way’ dad lays down the discipline and takes a stand. That is what a Dad should do in that instance because the kid will really respect the Dad for stepping in for Mom and Mom will appreciate you too dad, you will win big points for this.”

Dude. Not only can you not acknowledge anything other than heterosexual parents but your example is literally the most gendered inaccurate stereotype I have ever heard. It took a lot. I mean A. LOT. to sit there and not 1. chew my lip off 2. keep my big mouth shut.

I needed to take some space. I needed to take a little walk. It didn’t help I had spent the better part of the day also on the phone fighting with my nemesis Anthem. I was wired to fight dirty after dealing with those heinous people all day.

So I didn’t say anything. I’m taking time to reflect. I’m going to say something. I may send a link to this blog. Because I don’t like the feelings I’m having. I don’t like feeling ashamed of the make up of my family because it seems like you are uncomfortable even saying the word lesbian let alone lesbian Moms and gay dads and trans dads and trans Moms. How about acknowledging that some of these divorces are happening because people in heterosexual marriages now want to explore their sexuality and you’ve just shamed them hardcore.

I have feelings of pain because it just feels like the micro aggressions and overt aggressions will never go away and my sons are going into kindergarten and I’m terrified that they will now be exposed to homophobia. As a lesbian mom you do a disservice by pretending we don’t exist. You lumped me in with the hetero mom’s in that class. You made analogies, jokes, and statements geared toward me that had no meaning and were absolutely useless to my lived experience. And you could not even say the words “two mom’s”.

I wanted to stand up and say I am here. I. AM. HERE. SEE. ME. But I didn’t. Because it’s a stupid class that I have to get through to finalize the divorce. But a class meant to support and empower positive coparenting should not overtly state they will be ignoring the entire population of LGBTQ+ parents who are legally required to take it.

Yeah I have a lot of feelings about this. Including but not limited to:

And by the way. Two Mom’s can actually effectively discipline their child without a man. I’ve never needed to be rescued by a man to step in and discipline my son if he’s being “unruly”. My sons live with a healthy dose of fear of me and I’ve never laid a finger on them in terms of spanking or any physical punishments.

I’m consistent. I follow through on what I say I’m going to do. Expectations are clear and I know my sons.

I will be writing a follow up letter to the organization who organizes these classes. The year is 2021. There are many different family make-ups and you do a disservice to people who are being forced to pay for and take this class by just a blanket statement that you recognize we exist somewhere out on earth but we won’t exist in the context of your six hour class.

Because that my friends is homophobia. Big bad homophobia. It’s micro aggressions and it’s shaming and it’s a symptom of minority stress where we know we are in an unsafe space and we struggle the entire six hours with do we tell them or do we not. Are we physically safe if we tell them. Etc. Etc. I’ll say it again for friends in the back- not acknowledging us is homophobic. Not acknowledging that our coparenting is going to be maybe different from heterosexuals that’s also a micro aggression and just plain ignorant.

Do better. Be better. And be the voice in the crowd saying I AM HERE. Even if it’s after the fact. Because in the moment I would have been unpleasant. Afterward with time space and objectivity is totally fine. I’ll keep y’all posted.

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