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COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) is an organization, created in 1989 by the children of several lesbians and gay men who felt a need for support. Though its membership is not necessarily LGBT-identified, COLAGE's focus on the issues of LGBT parents' families makes it a de facto part of the LGBT community. There are 52 COLAGE chapters in the United States of America, 2 chapters in Canada, and one European chapter.
COLAGE is run and operated by children (of all ages) who have a lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) parent or parents. Older Colagers mentor younger members. They prepare them for any challenges that a child may have, having same sex parents. Members are open with each other and any topic can and is discussed.
COLAGE teams each summer with Family Pride and holds its annual Family Week in Provincetown on Cape Cod. There, hundreds of gay families come to enjoy the summer and the kids attend COLAGE meetings and workshops.
COLAGE is based out of San Francisco, California and has small number of paid staff. Its executive director is Beth Teper who has a lesbian mom and today is an advocate for children who have same sex parents.
COLAGE is the first organization of its kind and was originally called Just for Us. Just for Us began as a newsletter of the main six members of COLAGE. Later, six other chapters around the United States adopted that name. The ancestry of COLAGE can be tracked to an annual conference that is sponsored each year by Gay and Lesbian Parents Coalition International (GLPCI). In 1992, the group met for three days, outside of its annual meeting, to compose a mission statement and long-term goals. Amity Buxton represented the Straight Spouse Network (SSN), which has close relations with the Family Pride Coalition (FPC), at the conference and gave presentations for the GLPCI/FPC concerning her heading of the Task Force for children through the PFLAG. Her presentation proved successful in contributing to the origins of COLAGE.
In 1995, COLAGE opened a “volunteer-run” national office in San Francisco. This office operated for the primary purpose of providing “support, research, media, and advocacy” for over 500 families on a mailing list of children with GLBT parents. Beginning in 1996, COLAGE opened their arms to children of transgender parents and designed specific resources not available anywhere else.
In 1997, the organization was able to have the first director on payroll with a minuscule budget. The director, along with a determined team of youth-led volunteer committees, was able to commence a nationwide campaign that would allow them to hire another staff member in 1999.
The process for children to become comfortable with their lifestyle is often disrupted by different outside influences such as the “negative portrayals, misinformation, and the constant public debate about LGBT rights.” Current challenges also include the necessity to incorporate children of LGBT parents in the debates about LGBT rights. This would allow for a unique personal voice to be heard and have the opportunity for COLAGE to publicize their vision even more.
Another challenge of COLAGE is advocating for the lack of legal recognition of same-sex relationships. The negative implications from the lack of benefits or protections for LGBT families with children are a severe burden that will only worsen with time. COLAGE also battles the negative media concerning the psychological disorders that surround the children of LGBT parents.
COLAGE was originally an acronym (Children Of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere) but the organization dropped the acronym and uses the COLAGE name because it felt the acronym did not reflect all families in the LGBT community.
COLAGE Goals and Key ProgramsEdit
- "Create safe spaces for people with LGBT parents to be themselves, know they are not alone, unlearn the homophobia (and other oppressions) foisted upon them, and support one another across the differences that are also part of our community;
- Strengthen LGBT families and pride in these families, define their place within LGBT culture and community, and give back to their communities (both LGBT and non-LGBT);
- Develop youth leaders capable of speaking out and making change and offering skill-building trainings, thus positioning and connecting them with political change-making opportunities;
- Influence and create institutions that recognize, validate, celebrate, and protect rights of children and youth, especially those with one or more LGBT parent/s." 
COLAGE primarily serves children from eight to eighteen years old, however children of all ages are welcome to be helped by COLAGE. The children under nine years of age are generally offered programs hosted by other agencies specially designed for families versus the children separately. Once kids reach the age of nine, they begin to understand and feel the implications of having LGBT parents. Thus COLAGE serves the purpose to help children with peer-based learning and sharing especially with other COLAGErs. As the transition to middle school follows, children enter the stage in their life when peer pressure consumes their thoughts and perceptions about themselves. This age is a key time for a foundation of support for the years to come. In high school, children still have the need for peer support although they begin to take on adult responsibilities and strive for independence. COLAGE strives to help children in these stages of childhood through their programs which take place in three primary program areas: (a) Community Building and Youth Development, (b) Youth Leadership and Public Education, and (c) Advocacy and Youth Organizing.
Youth Leadership and Public EducationEdit
This program of COLAGE aims to “connect constituents with media and public speaking opportunities empowering them to produce authentic representations of their experiences.” YLAP (Youth Leadership and Action Program) is a COLAGE program is designed to support public education and advocacy efforts for the children with LGBT parents by creating high quality arts activism materials. In 2005, the YLAP members completed In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with GLBT Parents. This is a documentary that profiles several adolescents with their stories, unique experiences, and their opinions about same-sex marriages. This film is used as an educational tool to reach out to youth across America in hopes to education the general public and eventually influence school policies and legislation at the state/federal level.
Advocacy and Youth OrganizingEdit
This program of COLAGE aims directly “provide tools, training, and information to engage effectively in public policy development.” COLAGErs have been brought up by helping youth from an early age develop “self-awareness to social awareness to civic and political advocacy.” Specifically for this program area, a staff-led organization researches and advocates for COLAGE. In 2004, this organization “created and distributed a state-by-state guide of issues directly affecting GLBT people and families.” 
Colage's Mission Statement lists these basic core values:
- We value the basic principle that love makes a family.
- We value a pluralistic definition of family and parent(s) encompassing a variety of kinship structures including:
- immediate families,
- extended families,
- straight spouses,
- family structures which are marginalized in our society including single parent families,
- multiracial families,
- international families, and
- families with disabilities.
- We value the family as a powerful agent of social and cultural change.
- We value the experiences of our youth and families, acknowledging and honoring the struggle that many families face from externally imposed barriers, limitations, obstacles, and oppressions.
- We value the idea that as COLAGErs, we are the authorities of our own experience.
- We value our ability to express all parts of our lives and families freely and in all places.
- We value our allies, who include a broad array of progressive organizations and individuals, all of whom support the rights of all youth, and every family, to thrive and grow.
- We value coalition building with our allies, who recognize the value of organizing across differences and who are committed to creating the world we envision through positive action.
- We value youth-driven, consensus-oriented governance within our organization.
- We value seeking creative, fun ways to meet our ends.
Queerspawn is a term that was first termed by Stefan Lynch, the son of a gay father and a lesbian mother, but later popularized by Abigail Garner. Abigail is a child of a two-dad family and she wrote the popular book, Families Like Mine. In 1997, Garner, being merely 22, came out about her father’s homosexuality and began her career as an advocate for children of GLBT parents. The term Queerspawn was coined to identify kids with same sex parents. The name was quickly embraced by COLAGE kids around the globe. T-shirts are worn with the word QUEERSPAWN imprinted on them and worn proudly by kids who have same sex parents.
See also Edit
- ↑ The COLAGE Creation Myth. COLAGE. http://www.colage.org/about/myth.htm
- ↑ Gottlieb, Andrew R. "Introduction." Interventions with Families of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People: From the Inside Out. Ed. Jerry J. Bigner. Binghamton: The Haworth Press, Inc, 2006. pg 3.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Kuvalanka, Katherine A., Beth Teper, and Orson A. Morrison. "COLAGE: Providing Community, Education, Leadership, and Advocacy by and for Children of GLBT Parents." Interventions with Families of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People: From the Inside Out. Eds. Jerry J. Bigner and Andrew R. Gottlieb. Binghamton: The Haworth Press, Inc, 2006. pg 76.
- ↑ “Queerspawn” etymology revisited.
- ↑ Hart, Melissa. "Meet the 'Queerspawn'." The Gay and Lesbian Review (2005): 32-33.
LGBT and Queer studies