Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Zentrum für Transdisziplinäre Geschlechterstudien


EU Project: School Experiences Children from Rainbow Families

In December 2009, the ZtG began a project funded by the EU’s Daphne program called, "Homophobic Motivated Violence as Experience of Children growing up with Homosexual Parents in the Context of School." The aim of the project was to complete a comparative study over a two-year period and produce associated pedagogic materials.

The project was carried out as a qualitative study in three participating European countries (Germany, Sweden and Slovenia) with differing conditions (e.g. regarding the legal equality of same-sex relationships). Approximately 100 children from LGBT/rainbow families between the ages of 8 and 18 were asked about their everyday experiences in school in problem-centered, semi-structured interviews.

Interviews were conducted simultaneously with their parents to take into account their perspective on their children’s experiences, and their own expectations, apprehensions, and experiences as parents, as well as differing concepts in terms of sexual identification, gender, and family.

The sample was adapted to a specific topology (diversity in terms of familial LGBT constellations and backgrounds, a higher number of lesbian parents) while at the same time aiming for the greatest possible heterogeneity. We also employed theoretical sampling and took into account the ‘saturation principle’ during the analytical process.

In terms of access to research participants, we took into account limitations in meeting a ‘hidden population‘ and proceed with acute sensitivity, especially with regard to the children participating in the study.  

Community-based projects and institutions were contacted as gatekeepers, and personal contacts were utilized to snowball the process of locating participants. The contributions of the participating children and young people, and their parents, were analyzed and interpreted in a reconstructive process. We aimed to generate theoretical frameworks for strategies for children from rainbow families to address experienced (or anticipated) as violence in everyday school life. We were interested in the possible effects of the ‘what and how’ in participants’ (both children and parents) narratives and used discourse analysis to understand heteronormative figures and positions.

The results of the study provided the groundwork for the second part of the project. Together with experts in the field of LGBT education and counseling, as well as other educators, and taking into account existing materials, we created a modularly organized manual, specifically tailored for training professionals in pedagogical work both inside and outside of schools.