The Lesbian and Gay Child Care Task Force
Report on Quality Child Care

A report documenting the very best in child care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and their children with the sole purpose of offering hope and direction to enhance the quality of child care for children and families.

The Lesbian and Gay Child Care Task Force supports all children, families, and staff in early childhood and school-age programs in developing to their fullest potential by creating positive, supportive, and non-homophobic environments that are inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender educators, parents and their children.

Author and Lead Researcher: Mary Dispenza

Editor: Jean Kasota

Research Team
Tami Allen, Remi L. Calalang, Devony Fitch, Susannah Halliburton, Sarah Luthens,         
Sunny Rivera,Lyle Rudensey, Barbara Steele

Lesbian and Gay Child Care Task Force
Debra Appelman, Child Care Center Licensor, Office of Child Care Policy
Nina Auerbach, Executive Director, Child Care Resources
Charles Birdwell, Director, Y.W.C.A. Child Care
Michael Butler, Youth and Family Prevention Specialist, Stonewall Recovery Services
Mary Dispenza, Director, Prospect Enrichment Preschool
Cheryl Habgood, Associate Director, First Place for Children
Jean Kasota, Program Representative for King County Child Care
Theressa Lenear, Director of Diversity, Child Care Resources
Joan Newcomb, Head Start Education Coordinator, Puget Sound ESD
Debra Schwartz, Public Health Nurse, Seattle King County Public Health

We gratefully acknowledge the courageous parents, guardians and child care providers who shared their stories and photos of the best that is in child care.

We are grateful to Mary Anderson, Consultant of Moss Bay Partnership, for the gift of her expertise in the field of Appreciative Inquiry.

Design: Clare Conrad
Photos: Mary Dispenza
Webspinner: Gabi Clayton

Special funding for this research project was provided by
City of Seattle Comprehensive Child Care Program
King County Child Care Program
The PRIDE Foundation

Permission is granted to copy any portion of this report.


The Lesbian and Gay Child Care Task Force documented anecdotal evidence of homophobia in child care and school age communities including:

Adopting an Appreciative Inquiry methodology, the Task Force undertook a study to identify the best of what is currently happening in child care for LGBT parents and children, to envision what might be in the future, to dialogue about what should be and to develop provocative propositions for shaping the most positive future that can be imagined for child care that supports children of LGBT families. The topics explored were:

School Climate/Environment Policies/Procedures
Curriculum Parent Involvement
Resources "Out" Role Models
Staff Training Anti-Bias Philosophy
Parent Information Leadership

Appreciative interviews were conducted with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents/guardians and child care providers. One hundred sixty-seven stories were transcribed documenting the best that currently exists in child care for LGBT parents and children. Thirteen stories appear in this study. Peer researchers, participants at a Community Summit and at the 1998 WAEYC (Washington Association for the Education of Young Children) Conference read all the stories and identified compelling forces and elements that created the positive aspects of the stories. These elements were clustered into five core themes:
Participants stretched and expanded these themes by imagining the best possible world of child care for LGBT parents and children. Some of the provocative propositions they imagined were:

Every teacher and staff member is comfortable with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families and children. Child care centers are very clear in word and action that all families are welcome. Words like partner, co-parent, guardian and extended family members appear on forms and written communication. Teachers and staff are trained in diversity and anti-bias education. Books and images of LGBT families are in every center. Family pictures are displayed with pride. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teachers, staff and family members are out to each other and to the community. Children are validated every day by teachers and providers who recognize their family and honor their diversity.

Provocative propositions paved the way for participants to make their own individual action commitments, and to define next step initiatives which provide stakeholders with a challenging agenda for the future.

For further information regarding Our Families Our Children, the on-going work of the Lesbian and Gay Child Care Task Force and how you may get involved, please contact us at Child Care Resources—(253) 852-1908 ext. 201 or email:

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