The NSW Blue Book is likely to be changed to be more inclusive of same-sex families.
The book, which is given to all new parents to track the development and health of their child, is one of the first important documents for a newborn.
The current wording in the book “really isolates people”, according to mother of two Rebecca Barton – because it lists mother and father options.
“I think that it’s so gender orientated that it doesn’t account for all different types of families,” she said.
The Sydney mother is raising two sons with her partner, Karen, and they have often been challenged by the health system not recognising their family’s structure.
Ms Barton says it is “disheartening” to be told there is no space for two mothers on official forms – she suggests that they should list “parent 1 and parent 2”.
The majority of children in same-sex couples have two mothers, according to the ABS. Image via iStock.
"I know with my first son it really challenged my ability to connect with the world around me because I felt that I had to try and prove something - that I was his other mother," she said.
State Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen, MP, is leading a push to have the wording changed in the Blue Book.
“Families come in all shapes and sizes and government publications designed to help families should reflect that," she told Mamamia.
“When my own son arrived 20 months ago it was a wonderful but also slightly terrifying time. The Blue Book helped us along the way and tells new parents that they aren’t alone.
“I’m concerned that LGBTIQ parents or single parents or grandparent-carers open the Blue Book and immediately feel excluded because it doesn’t reflect all the kinds of families that exist in modern day NSW," said Ms Haylen.
The Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, said the suggestions to change the book's wording will be included in the major review in the next print run, in 2017.
"I’m heartened by the Minister’s positive response, [it] gives a strong indication that the Blue Book will change to reflect family diversity. I’ll keep working with my constituents and Rainbow Families to make sure the Government follows through," said Ms Haylen.
Father of two Ashley Scott says the potential change is "not just a win for the LGBTIQ community".
"It is important to consider that not every child lives with their genetic parents. Children who have been adopted or fostered or are living with their grandparents would benefit from these changes too," he said.
The 34-year-old raises his two daughters with 44-year-old partner James and has been told by health professionals that he "had to be the mother" on official forms.
The changes in the wording could also benefit foster parents. Image via iStock.
"With the current mother/father wording in the Blue Book it means that LGBTIQ parents have to come out to health professional each time they visit.
"For some LGTBIQ parents this can be a difficult process, bringing with it anxiety and shame. Family structure is often the last thing on your mind when you are visiting a doctor with a new born child. For some LGBTIQ parents this could mean that they are less likely to go to the doctor, to save having to come out again, " he said.
Rainbow Families, a community which fosters and supports LGBTQI families, has also suggested replacing "mother and father" with "parent 1 and parent 2".
Sydney mother Rebecca Barton welcomes the potential changes.
"I’m looking forward to it. Especially because on a lot of the forms out there you feel excluded if you’re the other parent so this way it’ll make you feel more included and more accepted...
"It gives you hope that it’s going to be a lot different for future generations that they’re not going to face such highlighting of difference and that difference is being abolished, which is great," she said.
After having to endure being told her family is "not normal", Rebecca Barton says changing the wording "will make a lot of people feel included".
“For many people, this might not seem like a big issue, but it would make a huge difference for LGBTIQ families," says Jo Haylen MP.
“The Blue Book is something kids look back on as a record of the earliest part of their life – changing it will send a powerful message to those kids that all families are equal and are made with love.
"I’m also looking at other government-issued forms and documents to make sure they also reflect family diversity,” she said.
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