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2012 Conference – We did it our way!

The Calder Valley Lesbian Parents Group’s first ever national community conference, themed We Do It Our Way, was held at Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Saturday 17th November.  Declared “very excellent” by one delegate, the event attracted around 100 participants from all over England, as well as Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

The day kicked off emotionally, with four local lesbian parents reducing many of the delegates to tears as they shared their varying experiences of motherhood, though some of these were tears of laughter.  This was followed by a keynote from barrister Marisa Allman, co author of the Handbook on Children and Same Sex Families.  Marisa’s highly informative talk untangled some of the confusion surrounding law relating to same sex families and prompted a flurry of questions which kept her busy long afterwards!

Local poet Clare Shaw got everyone going after lunch, with some poignant poetry which had people reaching for their tissues again!  Next up was the second keynote, by Dr Petra Nordqvist of the University of Manchester, which looked at her research into those becoming lesbian mothers through donor conception, a very interesting but under-researched area.

Break out discussion sessions covered the bullying and outing issues that some lesbian-parented families face (led by Amelia Lee and Jayne Mugglestone), as well as adoption (with parent/adoption panel member Helen Lawson), the ins and outs of lesbian conception (with Louise Kelly from national LGBT charity, Stonewall), and literature and describing families (with local author Tamsin Walker).  There was also a strong emphasis on supporting each other, particularly in more isolated areas of the UK, hence a session on setting up groups and networking which was led by members of the CVLPG committee.

Amanda Elwen, Chair of the CVLPG, commented: “What a wonderful conference, attended by delegates from far and wide. It was a huge success for Hebden Bridge, affirming its position as the lesbian centre of the UK and a fabulous and informative day for lesbian parents and lesbians wanting to become parents.  The conference also really brought to light the high levels of anti-oppressive practice by local children’s centres, nurseries and schools.”

Feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive, with comments including:

“It was fabulous – great to be in a room full of like-minded women.”
“V. lovely!  Really relaxed, informal, informative and interesting.  Could only be improved by being longer!”
“A fabulous day, empowering and enlightening!”
“Valuable, without a doubt.”

Information stalls at the event included Stonewall, CARE Manchester, Manchester Fertility Services, School’s Out, Rainbow Families, LGBT Youth North West, Fruitbowl in Sheffield, Calderdale Council Adoption Team, Salford City Council Adoption Agency, SWIIS Foster Care and the Rainbow Dragon Project.

The CVLPG hopes to organise similar events in due course – watch this space!

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