Right now in the United States, 20% of same-sex couples are raising children under the age of 18. Surveys tell us that about 50% of gay men and lesbians expect to have children in the future. With marriage equality the law of the land, having a family seems like the next logical step for many LGBTQ couples. This can have a profound impact on your customer service.
Although families have been increasingly diverse (many with single parents or children being raised by grandparents), many businesses fail to include LGBTQ families in their customer service training. Here are a few tips to ensure that LGBQ families are included.
If you run a medical office, gym, school, museum or otherwise have a form that parents/families must fill out, remember that the form should not say mother's name and father's name, but rather inclusive language such as "Name(s) of Parents/Guardians. As a lesbian parent I can't tell you how many times I've seen a form which says "Mother's Name" and "Father's Name." Not only is this exclusive to LGBTQ families, but also to single parents and children being raised by grandparents.
Train your team members to interact with all guests, including children, neutrally. This means that if the child is interacting with one of your team members, the team member should under no circumstances make a reference to the mother or father, but rather to the parent. If the team member references mommy, and the child doesn't have a mommy, that comment will make the child feel isolated and stigmatized. Your team member should not have to be corrected by a child. This can, of course, lead to a loss of business. As with gender fluidity, the best approach is neutral words. For example, if a team member says to a single child, "Do you need help finding your mommy?", that could be stigmatizing for a child with two dads. A better approach is, "Do you need help finding your adult?"
Inclusion marketing (or marketing that reflects the diversity of our society and our families) is always my recommended approach. In this case, include photos of diverse families as well as specific language and images that resonate with the community.