JULY 7, 2006
Free training for gay families
Statewide and national
gay groups to conduct
educational training on
By ERIC ERVIN
THE STATE GAY RIGHTS ADVOCACY
group Equality Texas has partnered with
the national Family Pride Coalition and
their OUTSpoken Families program to
kick off the "Our Stories" educational
training sessions, scheduled to make a
stop in Houston July 9.
Equality Texas is inviting lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender parents and
their allies across the state to participate
in a speaker's bureau training session.
The Houston Equal Rights Alliance, a
local gay rights group, has joined in the
effort, and is supporting outreach efforts
throughout the city as part of its ongoing
advocacy campaign for gay Houstonians.
Officials believe the training sessions
will give gay parents the tools necessary
to become effective and knowledgeable
speakers and advocates for family equality. They believe this will help the cause of
gay families, since participants in the
training sessions will be better able to
lobby government officials for change.
•'These media trainings are essential in
working with LGBT families to tell their
family stories among their friends, at the
grocery store, and to our elected officials,"
says Paul E. Scott, Equality Texas executive director. "For too long, LGBT families
have been left out of the definition of 'family' and it is imperative that we share our
lives to dispel the myths and stereotypes
perpetuated by extremists."
In an ongoing effort to coordinate education and advocacy efforts, the statewide
gay rights organization, along with the
FamUy Pride Coalition, recently launched
a media campaign spotlighting gay families. Representatives with the two gay
rights organizations say ultimately it will
be these families' stories that will change
people's opinions about gay families.
They point out that for the past four
sessions of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers have attempted to restrict samesex couples from becoming foster parents.
"We know how effective LGBT parents
are in reaching our elected officials, and
we need to flood the Texas capitol with
people willing to stand up for their families." Scott says.
Eva Thibaudeau-Graczyk, who along
with her same-sex partner, is the mother
of four small children.
"We are the in-betweens," Thibaudeau-
Graczyk says. "A menagerie of cultures,
geographies, colors and lives brought
together by circumchance. We exist in a
space that definitions fail to imagine. We
are an inter-ethnic, transracial, adoptive,
female-headed, gay household of transplanted Yankees living in Houston."
Despite the obvious differences
between gay families and straight ones,
Thibaudeau-Graczyk points out that both
are the same, and have the same values.
"There are so many ways in which we
differ from the 'norm', but even more in
which we are the same," she says. " In
church one week, the children's story was
about finding God in the in-between's.
"God was not to be found on the mountain peaks, the blazing desert sands or
the ocean's expanse. God did not reside
in the extremes of nature or humanity.
Rather, God was found in the relationships between people who chose to share
their love and resources with each other."
THE BIGGEST CONCERN FOR THIS GAY
mother is the effects discrimination could
have on her children.
"My life would be much easier if I
could just live it without having to worry
about my children being harassed, or my
marriage over-examined and called per-
verted,"she says. "My life would be simpler if I knew that I didn't have to scrimp
and save in order to pay for a second-parent adoption so that my wife wouldn't
lose custody of our four children if some
tragedy befell me."
The views by conservative groups
Paul Scott, executive director of the statewide gay rights organization Equality Texas, said the group's
news educational training program in partnership with the national Family Pride Coalition will benefit gay
families by leaving parents as effective and knowledgeable speakers and advocates for equality.
towards the gay population and gay parents doesn't bother Thibaudeau-Graczyk
"The religious right and the conservative
politicians can spew all the rhetoric they
want to about how my family is demoralizing
the troops in Iraq with our anti-American
family values," Thibaudeau-Graczyk says.
"They can label and villainize us."
Despite the opposition and discrimi
nation. Thibaudeau-Graczyk's spirits
and family unit will not be broken.
"They can try, but I am not ready to
stop telling our story," she says. "I am not
ready to accept injustice. I am not ready
to stop believing in the basic goodness of
" I keep on thinking that if I can just
educate one more person, maybe that will
tip the scales. I have my family to think
about and because of them, I won't stop
living my life.
"It's a good life. It's a blessed life. It's a
life that deserves to be heard."'
According to the organization's website. Equality Texas' mission is to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
ft MORE INFO
P.O. Box 2340
Austin, Texas 78768
Equality Texas Houston Training
July 9,1pm to 5pm, lunch at 12:30pm
Bering United Methodist Church
1440 Harold Street
Houston, Texas 77006
by lobbying the Texas Legislature and
other government agencies. The organization was formerly oalled the
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas.
The Equality Texas Foundation conducts research and educates Texans
about issues of equality, and helps coordinate efforts of gay and gay-friendly
organizations in Texas.
The Equality Texas Political Action
Committee works to help gay and gay friendly politicians elected to the Legislature.