Kids and Gender Toolbox

The new White Ribbon toolbox has gone from black and white to rainbow, says manager Rob McCann.

“We’ve teamed up with experts to develop Kids and Gender, for parents and whānau with kids who break gender rules. These kids often get bullied – boys who want to wear nail polish or play with dolls, or girls who refuse to wear skirts and want to play with trucks. Sometimes this means getting picked on at school, or by older siblings, parents or extended families.”

White Ribbon’s kaupapa of working to end men’s violence towards women includes talking about how to challenge ideas about gender that are the breeding ground for unhealthy attitudes and behaviour.

“The new toolbox is really for parents who haven’t yet connected with the Rainbow world, so they can understand what is happening better, and be loving and supportive of their Rainbow children,” says Mr McCann. “It’s a journey my family have been on too, so I feel like I understand some of the questions that come up. White Ribbon is thrilled to offer some support for families like mine.”

Toolbox author, Sandra Dickson, says plain language is important. “One of the things every parent I talk to says is ‘what do all these words mean?’ We also wanted to point parents to all the awesome information out there – from parent supports to takatāpui resources, to groups for young people who are questioning their sexuality or gender.”

Author – Sandra-Dickson

Ms Dickson, Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence project manager, says parents mostly just want to know how to support their kids. “We wanted to help answer their questions and make sure they realise they are not alone. Lots of other parents have worked out how to support their Rainbow kids. And honestly, that’s the most important thing to do as a parent – find support for yourself so you can be there for your children.”

“Some parents get worried about what it might mean when they become aware their child is queer or trans. But your child is still the same person – they have just told you a bit more about who they are.”

Nathan Bramwell, manager at Rainbow Hub Waikato, agrees. “We hear from young people all the time, wanting help to deal with families that are struggling to accept them. It’s pretty tough for parents, they don’t always know what their kids need.”

“We also have parents who come and sit in on our youth groups, just so they can be sure their young person is ok. That’s fabulous, and we’re always happy to see that. We’ve seen from parents that having a safe place for their young people, where they can also get support for themselves is a huge relief.”

“One of the parents who reviewed the resource for us asked if she could send it to her parents, then and there,” says Ms Dickson. “She said they wanted to know how to support their trans grandchild.”

Mr Bramwell is also keen to get Kids and Gender out there. “We will be offering this resource to everyone we can! It’s honestly so good to have information we can give out to parents and families that is positive, and doesn’t treat having Rainbow kids as a problem to solve. Our parents really like talking to other parents too, so it’s great the resource is suggesting parents get support, so they can be there for their kids.”

“It’s great to work with other organisations on this kaupapa, helping families and whānau to be safe and welcoming for Rainbow young people. It’s the work we do every day in our Waikato communities.”

The Toolbox was launched online on Monday 29 November, and the webinar will be available here (soon).



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Checkout our other Toolboxes. While the terminology in the other resources is primarily directed at men or boys, the concepts are universal.

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