Amidst the Safe Schools debate, Parents of Gender Diverse Children was born, a group helping to support young trans and gender diverse Australians and their families. Matthew Wade reports.
Soon after the Safe Schools program gained wider recognition in Australia, it came under fire from conservative news outlets and parents alike.
The Australian suggested the program would indoctrinate children as young as six into some sort of queer, genderless utopia, while the Australian Christian Lobby tried to instil fear in parents that it would teach them about radical sex.
To help combat this phobia, a group of parents got together to help form a support group for those who have trans or gender diverse children, and that was how Parents of Gender Diverse Children (PGDC) was born.
One of the founders, Karyn Walker, says when the negative attention was geared towards Safe Schools, she felt compelled to take action.
“I was with a group of parents and we wanted to speak out in support of the program, which had helped so many of our families and their young people,” she says.
“Becoming an organisation opened a lot of doors for us, and gave us a platform to speak out from.
“I’m a bit of an organiser by nature, so I tend to gravitate to the people in a group who make things happen.”
The issue is personal for Walker, as her daughter is trans.
She says she wants her future to be as happy and as free from discrimination as she can make it.
“The biggest part of the work we do after advocating for the Safe Schools program, is grassroots peer support of parents, and those parenting trans and gender diverse children of any age,” she says.
“With support, social connection, and information, we know that the general well-being and mental health outcomes of children and parents alike are vastly improved.”
Parents of Gender Diverse Children hit the ground running this year, kicking off with Pride in Melbourne last month, which Walker says was a “unifying and uplifting” experience for their families and young people.
This month, they’ll be holding a variety gala in collaboration with Proud2Play (P2P), an LGBTI sports inclusion initiative, to help raise funds for the year ahead.
“Proud2Play and Parents of Gender Diverse Children have worked closely together over the past two years, and it seemed such a natural fit to pool our resources and efforts together and do something big,” Walker says.
“Supporting ten new families a week, and the 400 families we have on our books means that we can be spread pretty thin sometimes.
“We have an amazing lineup of performers and special guests including Dolly Diamond, Jacob Thomas, and Kirsty Webeck, and all proceeds go directly to supporting families and getting young LGBTI people into sport and recreation.”
The PGDC and P2P Variety Gala will take place in Melbourne on Friday 16 February at the Malvern Town Hall. For more information and to purchase tickets visit: www.lgbtivariety.eventbrite.com.
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