Diverse families in Lithuania: real and getting stronger

NGO “House of Diversity and Education”  launched a project on family diversity  in September 2012. This project aims at uniting families of various forms: not only “traditional” families, where father and mother are raising children, but  also single parent families, migrant families, families with grandparents or siblings running the household, and also multi-ethnic families in Lithuania. Different cultural experiences are important, so we can learn from each other,  and build bridges of mutual understanding. Informational website www.ivairiseima.lt  (diverse family) was created to inform and also open a discussion on family in which every member is safe and equal. All families and  couples must be respected and valued without prejudices as to their  nationality, gender and family structure. The society should understand that family is based not on genetic or blood relations, but emotional links, trust, and most  importantly – responsibility for each of its members. We should learn to respect  each other, rather than promoting just one model, which represents only some  families. Diverse families also include same-sex families –  they do exist in our society, although are often unnoticed.   NGO “House of Diversity and Education” has undertaken a review of LGBT  (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) persons in Lithuania during the summer of  2012. It showed that 54 percent of LGBT persons are living in stable long term  relations, and 20 percent of them are raising children. All of the persons who  are raising children in Lithuania (according to the interviews) are lesbian or  bisexual women, who are raising children as single mothers or in a relationship with another woman. There are also gay and bisexual men in Lithuania, who choose  to raise children, sometimes with another same-sex couple of mothers. Lesbian and bisexual mothers, raising children  together in Lithuania, very often do not feel safe. The review revealed they  pointed out both psychological and legal insecurity. Children raised in  same-sex families are indirectly punished for their parents’ sexual  orientation. Kindergardens or primary schools are inviting  parents of the children to regular events. Would it be possible for two “moms”  come to the event? Not just “a mom“ and “an auntie” – but two mothers, without  the need to hide this fact? When children understand their family is different,  they start fearing communicating with classmates and inviting them to their  homes. The social pressure infringes the rights of such children, forces them into situations of exclusion, and bullying. Having in mind the needs of diverse families in  Lithuania, NGO “House of Diversity and Education” organizes educational  seminars for adults. In October, almost 40 pedagogues (current and studying)  participated in an interactive seminar “Diverse families in Lithuania: forms  and identities.” In November, a small and intimate seminar “Shield of fear: is  it worth hiding?” was held. In January 2013, a seminar “How to talk to children about diversity?“ took place, where both pedagogues and parents have been  invited to think, how to talk with children about “uncomfortable”  topics. From February, LGBT persons are invited to a therapy group, led by a  psychologist. Other events /seminars are also upcoming. NGO “House of Diversity and Education“ also seeks  meet the needs of socialization of diverse families: for instance, by organizing picnics, theatre excursions, and other events for (both LGBT and straight)  diverse families. This strengthens parents and children, raises awareness,  empathy and confidence. In September 2012, diverse families went to an adventure park, where  the bravest ones went wild on various tracks in the trees, while others simply enjoyed nature and  communication. In the end of January, diverse families visited theatre, and drank hot chocolate in the Old Town of Vilnius.

On May 5, 2013 different forms of families in Lithuania, including LGBT, multicultural and single-parent families, had gathered together to celebrate the International Family Equality Day. The event was dedicated to raise visibility of families of various forms, and for the parents and children from such families to share their experiences and to have fun. The event took place in the Vingis Park Vilnius, Lithuania. You can find the pictures of the event here>>

The  project was partially funded by the Netherlands Embassy in Vilnius, for which we  are very grateful. The website www.ivairiseima.lt is further on ran with the efforts of volunteers and enthusiasts, who are truly amazing  and inspiring. Every mean of support is appreciated>>

We hope that someday, there will be no need to argue for the value of every child  and every family. Until that day comes, everyone is welcome to join us in the  quest for the future-for-all, and fun.

 

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