Κυριακή 21 Φεβρουαρίου 2016

“Love creates families” Conference Conclusions”, Ouranio Tokso Families (Rainbow Families Greece), Athens, Greece, February 13-14, 2016

Foto Mairi Lantinioti

.      In connection with LGBTQI parents: It became apparent from the beginning that parents who identify as LGBTQI+, need to participate in activities like this conference. The workshops explored ways that will enable us, as parents,  to talk honestly to our children about our family, ways to confront the difficulties and discriminations that we have to face as LGBTQI parents, ways to empower our children to face the difficulties and discrimination because of their parents’ sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (Helena Olga Christidi, Hellen Chouvarda), but also ways to develop a secure emotional bond with our children through attachment parenting in order to become better persons in our role as parents (Maria Papafilippou, George Mprekoulakis). Furthermore, parents expressed their need to participate more actively in the parents’ meetings in order to convey their experiences, and to be empowered and get a feedback from the realities other parents live (parents group meeting).

Foto Mairi Lantinioti

Foto Mairi Lantinioti

1.      In connection with LGBTQI people who wish to be parents: The participants were able to explore, in the workshops, their need or their no need to be parents (Lyo Kalovyrnas). Parenthood as an identity and as a role was also examined (Alexandra Basiliou, Lena Aslanidou). Furthermore, the participants were informed about the role of the social workers in adoption and foster cases etc (Morphoula Gkamoulou), about assisted reproduction as a means of access to the parenting role (Lina Papadopoulou) and it was noted that society is mostly based in stereotypes about LGBTQI people as parents (Stella Mpelia). It was also highlighted that the example of existing families is extremely supportive to anyone who wishes to be a parent, plus it paves the way for LGBTQI people to have access to information, if they wish to become parents, and create a family with kids, biological kids or fostered ones (parents group meeting).

Foto Irene Petropoulou
      In connection with our children: The need to talk to our children with honesty was also obvious; to ensure that they can handle anything abusive they may hear about their family and their parents. It was clear that we can not intervene with all those who use name-calling, or derogatory speech etc about our families, or show a hypocritical interest about our children when they wonder if it is “normal” and “right” for them to grow in our families, but we can shield our children in such a way so as to be able to cope with such attitudes themselves. At the same time, several players – institutional and social – and persons dealing with children’s rights, like the Network for the Child’s Rights, Mrs. Helen Agathonos (Expert in Children’s Protection) and others, pointed out the multiple discrimination our children face according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It was also noted that if the concern was really child-centered, as many express such a claim, then their concern should be directed towards the child as a citizen that needs more than any other citizen her/his rights to be protected and safeguarded, and in such a case the right of our children to have a legal relationship with both their parents would not be violated by us, by the Greek state.
       Foto Mairi Lantinioti
      In connection with the legal framework: The participants were informed about the current laws that violate their and their children’s right, as well as about the changes needed in order to remove any discrimination from the legal system. There was also an update about the civil partnership law, about adoption issues and access to assisted reproductive methods (Basilis Sotitopoulos, Lina Papadopoulou, Morfoula Gkamoulou). Both the text sent by the General Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights, Mr. Kostis Papaioannou, and the answer of the Minister of Justice Mr. Nikos Paraskevopoulos to a parliamentary question filed by 21 SYRIZA MPs, that was read during the conference, showed that there is a declared intention and commitment to make all necessary changes and take further steps that will bring us closer to equality for all.
  Foto antivirus magazine
It was apparent, from the greeting speeches of the MPs and the representatives of the political parties, that a removal of the narrow spacers between the parliamentary parties is possible in order to create a climate of broad consensus when it comes to laws relating to human rights.

    Foto Mairi Lantinioti
       In connection to education:All the workshop leaders highlighted the inability of the Greek education system to include every kind of family not only in the school material, but in the curricula (obvious and hidden) as well, so as our children will not face discrimination in school and there were some guiding principles presented that could ensure a LGBTQI inclusive education (Dimitra Kogkidou)
Foto Irene Petropoulou
. It was also noted that sex education in the Elementary School Curricula can be a social change agent for the future (Harris Papadopoulos). Members of the Parliament (Bassiliki Katrivanou) and other representatives of political parties (Dimitris Chronopoulos), as well as representatives of educational institutions (Efi Manitsa, OMEP) on the everyday issue that our children are obliged to leave their family life outside the school environment and be again children of a LGBTQI family after school, fueled a debate  and the Deputy Minister of Education Mrs. Sia Anagnostopoulou, who was present at the moment, undertook the commitment to further discuss our demands and together to do everything possible so as to obtain a school  that embraces all children regardless of their parents sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and gender characteristics.

 Foto Mairi Lantinioti
      In connection to society: It was noted that the State does not need the consent of society in order to legislate. Many of the participants and delegates highlighted the importance of visibility, of information, and of the presence of our families in the public space and speech. It was also noted that society is “ready” when everyone knows about our families and realizes that we are a constituting reality. The placement of Mr. Theodora Megaloeconomou, MP of Central Union Party, triggered an impression as she shared with all the delegates her positive experience gained through the acquaintance with a lesbian couple that was raising their children in her constituency in Piraeus. Vassiliki Katrivanou, MP of SYRIZA Party, also shared her experience and how functional can a LGBTQI family be during the period she was a student in Portland, Oregon and shared the same house with a lesbian couple and their kid.

 Foto Mairi Lantinioti

1.      In connection with Mass Media and public speech: Lefteris Kretsos, General Secretary of Information and Communications, in his opening speech during the first day of the conference, pointed out how the Media and public figures react to the LGBTQI community issues and that their attitude is almost always very degrading and humiliating, something that became apparent during the debate that preceded the vote of the bill on civil partnership. He also noted that if there is a will on the part of the State – no matter what things were heard in the Parliament – we can proceed legislating until the laws can grant us rights that we do not have at this moment and those (rights) that we still do not have.
         Foto antivirus magazzine
 I     It  became apparent that we must direct ourselves in certain ways to “educate” the Mass Media and the press on how to handle our issues (Marianella Kloka). During the conference it was also clear that the words and expressions used by politicians, especially during the debate on the civil partnership bill, entail derogatory and abusive elements, as Mrs. Mary Leontsini suggested in her analysis with sociological terms.  
Foto Irene Petropoulou
1.      In connection with LGBTQI characters in literature for children and teenagers: Aggeliki Giannikopoulou addressed the absence of LGBTQI characters in the locally produced literature compared to other countries. The need our children to be able to recognize their family through the pages of the books was addressed, and how this “eviction” of LGBTQI characters in children’s books works, in symbolic terms, is an attempt to “wipe out” any representation of LGBTQI people  from real life, a part of which literature is. At this point, our organization “Ouranio Tokso Families” is making an effort to create such books, we presented our first book, “Short Family Stories», for  teenagers and adults written by August Corteau and Stella Belia

Foto Stella Belia
       Then actor July Souma read our second illustrated book for children “Alice is Looking at the Mirror”. Finally, there was a video where artist John Aleksiadis explained how he worked on the illustrations of the book.

Foto Stella Belia
      In connection with activism and demands: It became clear that “activism” can even be our presence in the public space, that there can be no separation between “serious” activist activities (like a conference) and “non-serious” activities (like a drag show party) (interactive work in groups), that we must take the blame off our sexual desires (Aspa Chalkidou) and be free to talk about our desires with no shame and guilt. 

   foto Vasilis Thanopoulos

       foto Vasilis Thanopoulos
      Present in the conference were representatives from almost all LGBTQI organizations in Greece and all of them put the issue of LGBTQI parenthood under consideration through their own perspective, their own theme and their own assertive frame. Just before the closure of the conference, the organizations involved formulated the backbone of the “Manifest on LGBTQI Parenthood”, with our thesis and our demands. This Manifest, as it was formulated and revised after the conference, was turned over to a group of experts on legal issues for revisions, in order to work as an assertive “tool in our future contacts with state actors at the discussions on issues related to parenting of LGBTQI people.

Conference Program « Love creates families»

10:00-10:30 Registration

A short welcome note by the Chairperson of “Ouranio Tokso Families” Mrs. Stella Mpelia

10:30- 12:30 Workshops
1.                    Elena Olga Christidis, Psychologist-Psychotherapist (20 participants)
 “How do we speak to our children about our family? How can we cope with the difficulties and discrimination as LGBTQI+ parents?”
In this experiential workshop we will examine situations that make every parent feel awkward: when kids want answers. How we prepare ourselves for such moments, how we can confront the environment and the social pressures, how can we maintain a fruitful communication with our children about LGBTQI+ issues? The workshop is addressed to both LGBTQI+ parents and LGBTQI+ people who think of or would like to become parents.
Elena Olga Christidis is a psychologist and psychotherapist. She deals with issues of discrimination and human rights and is actively involved in issues, problems and challenges relating to the LGBTQI+ community. She offers self-awareness, counselling and psychotherapy services to individuals and groups.
2.                   Maria Pappafilipou, MSc Consultant in Mental Health Issues Family-Systemic Consultant, founder of Attachment Parenting Hellas (20 participants)
Positive Parenting”
According to Attachment Parenting, Positive Parenting embodies its basic philosophy, namely “treat your children the way you would like to be treated if you were a child”.
Positive Raising encourages and strengthens the emotional bond between parents and children and hence children foster their socio-emotional development and well-being.  Attachment Parenting is based on creating a positive family environment that allows and encourages children to explore and learn from it and by it. It is based on the idea that if we treat children with respect and love, then they will gradually develop their own internal discipline model and empathy, which is the goal of Positive Parenting. The nature of this kind of parenting is pro-active, that heavily relies on prevention and parental example, as well as on the positive communication between parents and children.
In the workshop of Attachment Parenting the participants will have the opportunity, through experiential exercises, to decode the behaviours of their children, to realize what are their needs that they communicate and how you can help them in a positive way so as to gain valuable life skills such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and other social skills that constitute emotional intelligence.
This workshop is addressed to parents of children aged 0-19 years, as well as to people that are keen to experience the world of Positive Parenting.www.attachment-parenting.gr
3.                   Eva Spinou - Helen Chouvardas  (20 participants)
Exploring the way towards creating LGBTQI+ families”  Part 1: Experiential exercises and group empowerment, Part 2: Panel discussion on issues of LGBTQI+ families
Helen Chouvardas – Psychotherapist, Eva Spinou - Psychologist
Eva Spinou was born in Athens in 1981. She is a psychologist, graduate of Panteion University and trained in London on Therapeutic groups on Sexual Minorities. She is also expert on Bodynamic PTSD Training, as well as in Bodynamic Foundation Training. Also specializes in counselling on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and her therapeutic approach is based on the Holistic view of a person as Body-Mind-Spirit, in which the existence of dynamic equilibrium between these factors enables a person to live creatively and freely, according to her/his beliefs and aspirations.
She started her practice in 2009 and offers her services through individual sessions, group counselling and self-awareness. She also coordinates the training of mental health professionals on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity with seminars and seminar supervision. http://www.evaspinou.com/viografiko/

Helen Chouvardas: Msc, Psychotherapist, member of the British Psychological Society. Since 2002 she monitors the training sessions on Process Work approaching and participates in groups in Greece and abroad. She also has her private office in Athens providing psychotherapy counselling.
Both Helen Chouvardas and Eva Spinou were members of the support hot-line 1528 offering psychological support on sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
4.         Morphoula Gkamoulou, Social Worker, Post-Graduate Studies in Social Work in Education of the Demokriteon University of Thrace, Master of Advanced studies in Children's rights IUKB-University of Fribourg Switzerl and Μaster of Arts in special and inclusive education Nottingham Trent University UK
“Adoption by same-sex couples”: Adoption Laws. Responsible institutions. The role of a Social Worker in adoption issues.  Why in favor for same-sex couples?  What are the obstacles in such adoptions
Experiental discussion in groups on stereotypes and parenting issues of lgbtqi people

12:30-13:00 Short coffee break

13:00 -14:00 Finish of the the workshops and work groups session

14:00- 14:30 Plenary briefing on the conclusions in the workshops and work groups and experiential work process in groups

14:30- 16:00 Lunch break

16:00 Speeches from institutions:
 Speeches will be addressed by the following institutions:
·         General Secretariat of Information and Mass Media
Mr. Lefteris Kretsos, General Secretary of Information and Communication
·         Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs
Mrs. Sia Anagnostopoulou, Deputy Minister of Education
·         Helen Agathonos, Professor of Psychology,  University of  Birmingham
 Expert in Children's Protection, Member of the Board and Scientific Consultant of the NGO “ELIZA – Against Child abusion
              16:30- 18:30
·         ·         Vassilis Sotiropoulos, Barrister, “Options provided by the Civil Partnership Law and the rights that are not included”
·         ·         Lina Papadopoulou, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, Law School of Aristoteleion University of Thessaloniki, «Same-sex couples and IVF methods»
·                 Demetra Kogkidou, Professor Department of First Grade Education,  and Chairperson of the Gender and Equality Committee of Aristoteleion University of Thessaloniki
Reality and Πραγματικότητα και guiding principles for ensuring a LGBTQI inclusion education
·         ·         Charis PapadopoulosPrimary Education School Counselor, “Sex education as a social change factor in Primary Education”

18:30 18:50 Short coffee break

18:50 19:00 Reading of the second illustrated book published by “Ouranio Tokso Families” “Alice is looking at the mirror” by the actor July Souma and projection of the illustrations on a video wall

19:00 20:30
·                 Aggeliki Giannikopoulou, Associate Professor, Faculty of Early Childhood Education, University of Athens “Same-sex families in children's illustrated books”
·                 Mary Leontsini, Associate Professor, Faculty of Early Childhood Education – National and Kapodestrian University of Athens “The discussion of Civil Partnership Law and the rejection of adoption”
·                  Marianella Kloka (Editor in the Greek Office of Pressenza  International News AgencyFamilies with LGBTQI parents and the Mass Media in Greece”

10:00 - 10:30 Opening of plenary session
10:30- 12:30 Workshops and work groups
1.      Alexandra Vassiliou - Lena Aslanidou
The parenthood as identity and role”  (30 participants)

In this experiential workshop we will explore parenthood as personal and social identity and role. We will also seek connections and potential conflicts between our understanding / experience of the role as patrnts and the views that prevail in the mainstream of the society in which we live. We will do individual work, as well as we will work in pairs and in plenary.

CoordinatorsLena Aslanidou, M.P.W. And Aleksandra Vassiliou, Ph.D. - Adult Trainers http://processworkhub.gr/

2.                  George Mprekoulakis, Psychologist, M.Sc. Of Panteion University,  Associate in Attachment Parenting Hellas
Workshop: Attachment Parenting” (20 participants)
Description: Attachment Parenting is a practice on the development of a caring and emotional relationship between parent – child. The workshop will explore how the interrelationship between parent – child shapes the emotional development of the child’s brain and what parenting skills will help build secure emotional attachments. This workshop is addressed to people who are already parents or wish to be parents irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
George Brekoulakis is a Psychologist, M.Sc. Panteion University, Associate of Attachment Parenting Hellas ,www.brekoulakis.gr  www.attachment-parenting.gr

3.                     Lyo Kalovyrnas
“Why I (do not) want to be a mom / dad?”  (20 participants)
In this experiential workshop we will consider what parenthood means to us, what motivates us or prevent us from becoming parents, the social pressures, and our prestige and feelings about this socially charged issue. The workshop is addressed to LGBT women and men.
Lyo Kalovyrnas works as a mental health counsellor. He coordinates since 2012 workshops and groups for women on the (non) motherhood issues and the social pressures that women experience in order to become mothers, also he coordinates self-awareness groups for gay men and groups on the issue of female sexual desire. .http://www.webtherapy.gr/

4Aspa ChalkidouDoctor of Social AnthropologyAegean University

What desire has to do with all these? A discussion for everyone in the family”
Interactive discussion in groups for the (non) involvement (non) participation in activist groups.

12:30-13:00 Coffee break

13:00 - 14:00 Finish of the the workshops and work groups session

14:00- 14:30 Plenary briefing on the conclusions in the workshops and work groups and experiential work process in groups

14:30- 16:15 Lunch break (the monthly closed parents meeting group will be held during the lunch break)

16:30-17:30 Welcoming speeches from political parties

17:30 -18:30 Demands, views and claims of LGBTQI organizations

18:30 18:50 Coffee break

19:30-20:00 Manifesto of the demands and claims of the LGBTQI organizations about the rights of LGBTQI people in parenthood

20:00 End of the conference
Translation Irene Petropoulou

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