Challenges in LGBT Inclusion in Nova Scotia’s Family Resource Centres

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Bornemann, Sandra
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families are increasingly benefiting from legal recognition and social visibility in Canada. However, historic discrimination of and lingering negative societal attitudes towards the LGBT community have led to LGBT families who are typically reluctant to access services. Family resource centres (FRCs) provide family life education (FLE) and services to families in Nova Scotia, and they need to ensure that their services are inclusive of this population. This research explores if and how these centres are attempting to include LGBT families in their FLE programming. This study was guided by the critical paradigm and used both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. First, employees from 15 of the 38 FRCs in Nova Scotia participated in an online questionnaire that explored the current state of inclusion of LGBT families in FRCs through an exploration of existing LGBT resources, organizational policies, and organizational culture. Then, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six FRC employees to explore the roles of FRCs in creating and maintaining LGBT inclusion. Feminist, queer, and conflict theories shaped the research design, data collection, and analysis. Online questionnaires illuminated that some inclusion efforts were actively underway in many centres with respect to resources, policy, and collaboration with LGBT organizations. Five themes were identified in the semi-structured interviews: (a) challenges faced by LGBT families, (b) challenges faced by FRCs in fostering inclusion for LGBT families, (c), whether or not special programming for LGBT families is needed in FRCs, (d) specific support needed for LGBT families to feel welcome in FRCs, and (e) the need for LGBT education within FRCs. These findings have implications for FLE practice within FRCs in fostering LGBT inclusive programming and services.
LGBT, family resource centres, Nova Scotia, family life education