203 – Including same-sex families in early childhood settings in Australia: Perspectives of parents of Chinese ancestry

Presentation - ECV2022-203

Including same-sex families in early childhood settings in Australia: Perspectives of parents of Chinese ancestry

Xinyun (Meg) Liang, Macquarie University, Australia (meg.liang@mq.edu.au)

Background: A key source of early childhood (EC) educators’ reluctance to include same-sex families in their programs has been their perceived opposition from parents. Little is known about the preparedness of parents of young children to support them in EC settings or the perspectives of ethnically and linguistically diverse families attending EC settings in Australia.

Aim: This study explored the perceptions of parents of Chinese ancestry in Australia to better understand parents’ perspectives on including same-sex families in EC settings.

Method: This exploratory, mixed-method study was organised in two sequential phases. A total of 54 ethnic Chinese parents (43 mothers and 11 fathers) of children with experiences in EC settings in Australia participated in an online survey. Five (four mothers and one father) engaged in follow-up interviews to probe issues in-depth.

Results: Three key results about ethnic Chinese parents’ beliefs and attitudes were revealed: (1) Parents expressed an overall resistance and reluctance to support young children learning about same-sex families. Underpinning this resistance were themes about (a) the relevance of information that parents perceived their children have access to about same-sex families, and (b) their perceived challenges about children’s conceptual capabilities; (2) Parents felt compelled to exercise boundaries and control over their own children’s education in response to changing attitudes towards same-sex families in Australian society; and (3) There was an absence of focus on diverse family structures in EC settings their children attended.

Conclusions: Parents require evidence-based information to alleviate potential concerns and practitioners require dedicated training to gain confidence in building a collaborative partnership with all families to include same-sex families.

Implications for children and families: Children have the right to quality EC education that empowers them to become informed citizens who are critical thinkers about equity, diversity, and discrimination. Your support for children learning about same-sex families is critical to achieving this goal. Children will most likely benefit from such discussions when you and EC teachers collaborate to provide appropriate learning opportunities.  

Implications for practitioners: You are responsible for presenting non-discriminatory EC programs inclusive of same-sex families and fostering social justice in the community. To achieve this goal, you are encouraged to ascertain parents’ understanding of their own children’s competence in understanding same-sex families. Critically reflecting on children’s awareness, particularly in day-to-day pedagogical documentation, can also be beneficial. 

Funding: Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship (MQRES-MRES R2R)

Keywords: families’ voices, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, same-sex families, diversity and inclusion, ethnicity

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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