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We are excited to relaunch our LGBTQ2IA+ Families Then and Now series in 2023! Through conversations with a diverse range of parents who identify as LGBTQ2IA+ as well as young adults who were raised by LGBTQ2IA+ parents, this free conversation series explores the changing landscape of LGBTQ2IA+ parenting during the last several decades.
Together, we will discuss the experiences of families living in a diverse range of social contexts. By listening to the stories of each family, we hoped to broaden and deepen our vision of family to be far more inclusive and to embrace the diversity of who families truly are in America today
The five-part series begins on Monday, May 8, 2023, and continues through June 26, 2023. Each webinar is 1 hour followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with our parent panelists. All webinars have live Spanish language translation and closed captioning available.
Here are some of the topics these conversations will explore:
- Impact of policy and law on families’ lives, children’s literature, and educational settings
- LQBTQ2IA+ family formation and gendered notions of parenting
- Generational and evolving perspectives on gender, sexuality, and identity
- Two-spirit experiences and perspectives
- Ethnic and racial diversity in LGBTQ2IA+ families
- Representation of diverse family forms in literature and other media
This series is part of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center’s Family-to-Family Real Talk conversation series.
This series is moderated by Laura Benkov, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who has worked with children, adults, couples, and families for decades in a variety of community mental health, private practice, school, and hospital settings, providing supervision/training, psychotherapy, and psychological/neuropsychological evaluations.
She is the author of one of the first books (and several subsequent articles) on the subject of lesbian and gay parenthood, Reinventing the Family: The Emerging Story of Lesbian and Gay Parents (Crown, 1994). She has been on staff at Boston Children’s Hospital and is formerly the Clinic Director at Think: Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, she worked at Fenway Community Health Center in Boston, focusing on HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ family formation.
Episode 1: Monday, May 8, 2023, 4:30 – 6 PM ET / 1:30 – 3 PM PT
Join us for our first episode featuring Danielle Silber and Avi Silber. Danielle and Avi are siblings raised by lesbian and gay parents. When they were children, their family was featured in Laura Benkov’s book, Reinventing the Family: The Emerging Story of Lesbian and Gay Parents.
Director, Corporate Engagement at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Danielle Silber is the Director of Corporate Engagement for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where she leads a team to develop corporate partnerships to help further civil rights through cause marketing, consumer education, employee engagement, and corporate advocacy. In the wake of the Muslim Ban and increasing threats to voting rights, racial justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and the very foundation of our democracy, Danielle has helped hundreds of companies leverage their resources to help protect the rights of their employees and customers.
Danielle co-founded Don’t Ban Equality, a network of 600+ companies promoting the right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion, as critical for advancing gender equity in the workplace and in society. Danielle has also led dozens of company-facing workshops on the importance of addressing racial justice and voting rights as part of businesses’ civic engagement programming.
Previously she headed up Corporate Alliances for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where she had the privilege of designing cause marketing campaigns with brands like HBO’s Game of Thrones and employment recruitment pipelines for companies like Chipotle to destigmatize and support refugees in the United States and abroad.
Before joining the IRC, Danielle taught International Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and, in her spare time, served on the board of and ran the New York chapter of COLAGE, a national youth advocacy and education organization by and for people with one or more Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender parents.
Molecular Biotechnology, Music Technology, and Honors Chemistry Teacher from Montgomery County, Maryland
Avi Silber is a teacher from Montgomery County, Maryland. Over the past 11 years, he has taught over 10 different curricula. He currently teaches Molecular Biotechnology, Music Technology, and Honors Chemistry. He also coordinates the Academy of Biotechnology, a program that prepares students for careers in Biotech through partnerships with organizations in the DC area. And he runs the Secret Society of Science Song Writers (4SW), a club where students research science topics and then write, record, film, and edit original music videos to teach those concepts to their peers and communities. His work with Music Technology education earned him a WAMMIE award in 2020. And he just finished his Master’s in Audio Technology from American University in 2022.
In addition to his work in schools, Avi spent much of his childhood as a youth in COLAGE, an organization that provides programming for youth with one or more LGBTQ2IA+ parents. And he spent several years in adulthood as the coordinator of Middle School “Crew” programming during Family Week (an annual gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified families). During these, he worked with other musically inclined staffers to run songwriting workshops with the middle school campers where they would make music videos to share out about their families.
Episode 2: Monday, May 22, 2023, 3 – 4:30 PM ET/ 12 – 1:30 PM PST
Join us for our second episode featuring Candi Brings Plenty, an Oglala Lakota Sioux, Queer Indigenous, Non-binary, Two Spirit. Candi is a fierce advocate and leader for Environmental Justice, Indigenous Rights, and Two-Spirit Visibility. Candi will be joined in the conversation by her children, Helina Brings Plenty and Breana Brave Heart.
Candi Brings Plenty
Oglala Lakota Sioux, Queer Indigenous, Non-binary, Two Spirit, and National Campaign Director for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network)
Candi Brings Plenty, Wakinyan Tunwanpi Iyoyanpa Win (Bright Lightening Womxn), is an Oglala Lakota Sioux, Queer Indigenous, Non-binary, Two Spirit. Candi is a direct descendent of Crazy Horse’s band and is an ancestral survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre. They currently work as the National Campaign Director for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and previously worked as an Indigenous Justice Organizer for the South Dakota, North Dakota & Wyoming regions. She continues to incorporate Indigenous Justice, political tactics, and traditional organizing methods to bring awareness and protection for frontline warriors taking on the MMIP (Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons) epidemic, LandBack, Historical Trauma Healing, Environmental Justice issues, Indigenous Rights, and Two-Spirit visibility.
Candi is the mother of Helina Brings Plenty, 19 years old and a freshman at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, and Breana Brave Heart, a senior at Pine Ridge High School, graduating at the end of this week. Her two Baby Bears also identify as Two Spirit and carry forward her teachings, wisdom, and empowerment of liberation through Indigenous joy.
Episode 3: Monday, June 5, 2023, 3 – 4:30 PM ET/ 12 – 1:30 PM PST
Join us for our third episode featuring married couple Keanna and Kay Jackson, who live and work in St. Louis, Missouri. Keanna is a community health worker and community advocate interested in the social determinants of health and racial equity in the healthcare system. Kay, who was previously in the military, currently works for The Boeing Company and is an artist and full-time student at St. Louis Community College, where she is studying to be a teacher. They are the proud parents of an 8-year-old daughter.
Community Health Worker Coordinator at NOVUS Health Clinic in St. Louis, Certified Application Counselor with Medicaid, ACA (Affordable Care Act) plan enrollment
Keanna Jackson is the Community Health Worker Coordinator at NOVUS Health Clinic in St. Louis, with more than eight years of experience in public health support. She is also a Certified Application Counselor with a focus on assisting patients and community members with Medicaid, ACA (Affordable Care Act) plan enrollment and navigating clinic services. Her experience growing up in East St. Louis and then moving to North St. Louis has helped to instill in her a duty to raise awareness of the issues of social determinants of health and racial equity in the healthcare system. Keanna has a passion for community engagement and advocacy and is a powerful force in her community. She uses her positive attitude and “go-getter” energy to encourage others to help uplift their communities as well. Keanna is inspired daily by her wife, Kay, and their daughter. In her free time, she likes to write, read, and play with her two cats, Noah and Theodore, and her small dog Mimi.
Works at The Boeing Company in St. Louis and is a full-time student at St. Louis Community College
Kay Jackson works in gate control at The Boeing Company in St. Louis. She is also a full-time student at St. Louis Community College, where she is studying to be a teacher with an emphasis on art education. Kay served in the Missouri Army National Guard for eight years and was honorably discharged in 2020. She and her wife, Keanna, have been together for 14 years and married for nine, and they have an 8-year-old daughter, Renise, who is named after Keanna’s mother. In her free time – which isn’t a lot as a full-time working mom and student – Kay enjoys photography and customizing sneakers and clothing.
Episode 4: Monday, June 12, 2023, 12:30 – 2:00 PM ET / 9:30 – 11:00 AM PT
Join us for the fourth episode of LGBTQ2IA+ Families Then and Now! This episode features Alison Gee and Falyn Taylor, who both work at the Parents as Teachers National Center. Alison is Vice President of Government and Community Engagement, where she advances federal and state policy through networking and advocacy. Falyn is the National Director of Equity and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Missouri. They are each lesbian parents — Alison with grown children, Falyn with young ones — who, being colleagues working to support families and children nationally, will reflect on their personal and professional contexts and experiences.
Alison Gee, MPH
Vice President of Government and Community Engagement for Parents as Teachers National Center
Alison Gee, MPH, is VP of Government and Community Engagement for Parents as Teachers National Center (PATNC). In this role, she advances Federal and state policy through networking and advocacy. Alison also oversees the PATNC Show Me Strong Families ‘Blue Ribbon’ affiliates that provide home visits to almost 300 families each year in St. Louis City and north St. Louis County through Federal, state, and private foundation support. She has spent more than 4 decades advocating for maternal and child health, social justice, and racial equity.
Alison was previously VP of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region & Southwest Missouri; COO of the Health Policy Institute, a Missouri-based education and advocacy group; and Executive Director of a Washington, D.C.-based, PAC. She worked on the initial development and implementation of the Missouri Medicaid Managed Care (MC+) program and has played a key role in the development, drafting, and passage of Missouri state legislation on prenatal substance use disorder, collaborative practice regulations, and maternal and child health care reform.
Alison is a charter member of the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE), a Court Appointed Special Advocate, a founding member of the MO Immunization Coalition, served on the Deaconess Foundation Policy Advisory Committee, and is Vice President of PROMO, a Missouri statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization. She received the St. Louis Argus Distinguished Citizen Award in 2011. In a former life, Alison was Chief Shop Steward for SEIU Local 722 in Washington, DC, and lead negotiator on a contract renewal for a group of six dialysis units. Alison lives in St. Louis City with her wife and has two adult sons and a grandson.
Falyn Taylor, LPC
National Director of Equity for Parents as Teachers National Center
Falyn Taylor is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Missouri and has been working in the combined education, mental health, and DEI field for approximately 10 years.
She previously worked for the Washington University in St. Louis Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center. There she spent time identifying avenues to serve marginalized student populations on campus, as well as providing training for staff, faculty and student groups on non-bias and trauma-informed practices. Prior, Falyn spent years in the K-12 school system supporting school administration, students, and families to incorporate those same frameworks in policy and practice.
Falyn has experience developing anti-bias practices in search committees for executive positions in education. This allowed for the creation of intentional hiring practices to recruit diverse applicant pools and strategize on how to reach DEI goals. Her passion is to dismantle factors that stunt the process of growth through research-based approaches; promoting the goal of equity and inclusion within diverse settings.
Episode 5: Monday, June 26, 2023, 12:30 – 2:00 PM ET / 9:30 – 11:00 AM PT
Join us for our fifth and final episode featuring married couple Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, who live and work in New York City. Justin is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, Director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Peter is a Broadway and Off-Broadway playwright and television writer. Together, Justin and Peter co-authored the multi-award-winning and perennially challenged picture book And Tango Makes Three, as well the apparently less alarming but no less gay Christian The Hugging Lion. They are the proud parents of a 14-year-old daughter, Gemma.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, Director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association
Justin Richardson is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, the Director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In addition to the picture books he coauthored with his husband Peter, he is co-author of the parenting book Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know about Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask). Justin has consulted extensively with independent schools throughout the US on children’s sexual development. He and Peter are the proud parents of a 14-year-old daughter, Gemma. The three live in Greenwich Village with a labradoodle named Pushkin.
Broadway and Off-Broadway playwright and television writer
Peter Parnell is a Broadway and Off-Broadway playwright and television writer. His plays have been produced nationally and internationally at, among other theaters, New York’s Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, the Atlantic Theater Company, and the Public Theater; LA’s Mark Taper Forum; and the Seattle Rep. Of special interest to today’s conversation is his play Dada Woof Papa Hot, produced by Lincoln Center Theater Company in 2015 and capturing the challenges and comedy of becoming a father as a gay man. His work for television includes writing for the first two seasons of The West Wing, among numerous other shows. He is the co-author with his husband, Justin Richardson, of the multi-award-winning and perennially challenged picture book And Tango Makes Three, as well the apparently less alarming but no less gay Christian The Hugging Lion.