workarounds, school forms, listserves, three parent family, co-parenting, apologetic, update, TDSB, census, language, John Malloy, heteronormativity, diverse families
Ben: The only issue we’ve encountered with the school was with the school board systems.
Ben: So the computer system can only take two names, the forms only take two names. The emailing, I don’t even understand why there’s a limitation on a listserv, but the list serve can only send to two people. And so everyone in the school is very apologetic, and we’re very understanding that’s systems are beyond, often, their local control, and everyone in the office is often willing to help us find work-arounds, uh, by adding, you know, another name under emergency contact, or alternating names on different forms. So one form might have Alexis and me, and another form might have Ian and Alexis, and another might have me and Ian, so no matter where you go you’ll see one or, you know, you’ll see some one of the three names, and as much as possible we try to have all three names.
Ian: But the people, it’s really, I think you’ve said it, the people are always embarrassed and their – their answer is, look, this is an old system from twenty years ago, eventually someone will get a few million dollars to fix it, but until that happens, here’s how we’ll deal with it. There’s never been anything but total willingness to do that.
Ben: One experience that we had that was recent, was the TDSB census. The TDSB family census is a very, uh, well thought out already in terms of what it was, to what it is. Which is all the language is very neutral, it allows for multiple, uh, parenting arrangements. But what it doesn’t – uh, what it does assume is that each child lives in one home. And so the census only allows you to identify the people by household, and we weren’t able to write it so that it didn’t seem like we – all three of us lived together, but there was no way to indicate that he had two separate homes. So we wrote to the uh, the person who was overseeing the census, and I copied John Malloy [laughs] just in case.
Tara: And for my gang who don’t know who John Malloy is…
Ben: Oh, he was the Director of Education for the TDSB. Um, and uh, I got a response right away, and they said, look we – thank you for letting us know. We’ll try to make this work for next time. We don’t know whether we can do that, but here’s a work around. Which was, here’s another form, you just need to write the coding the same way, then you can just attach it and submit it. And that was fine. Like, I don’t expect every system to consider all the variations, as long as they have a way to help us work through it.
Ian: That’s not even about heteronormativity. That’s not honouring families that are [unclear] families. I mean, there are so many of those, right?
Ben: That’s right, that have two households.
Tara: Well said.
Ian: There are so many of those.
Tara: Well said.