Parenting can be a difficult journey to navigate for anyone, but for LGBTQ+ people there can be added pressures and unexpected barriers. The workplace has policies that are there to support and protect parents, but it’s vital to make sure these include LGBTQ+ parents.
Crystal Wright, Operations Manager at Autodesk, spoke to myGwork about her LGBTQ+ parenting journey. She gave advice to first-time parents and discussed the unique joys and difficulties of becoming an LGBTQ+ parent.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role at your organization.
Hello! My name is Crystal Wright (she/her) and I am an Operations Manager at Autodesk. My job is to coordinate between our sales and technology teams to provide answers to our customer’s security questions.
What advice would you give to an LGBTQ+ first time parent?
I think a lot of LGBTQ+ people know this already but there are many different ways to build a family and family can look different to everyone. When trying to build a family, it can be so easy to get caught up in a vision of what your perfect family will look like and get stressed when things look a little different. But there’s so much beauty to be found in the ‘imperfect’ and it’s important to take a moment to appreciate what you have.
Have you had any difficulties in workplace as an LGBTQ+ parent? If yes, how do you think these could have been prevented?
A lot of folks make assumptions about how we built our family or ask some really personal questions about the details of how we did it. Personally, I’m ok with being very open about our parenting journey in order to help educate but not everyone would be so welcoming to such intrusive questions. I think it’s important to remember that family building can be a very personal and emotionally heavy experience and to approach the conversation with empathy. I’ve had people assume that I was the gestational parent and while I personally chose not to carry, I could have very much wanted to but have been unable. That would have been a very challenging interaction had that been the case.
What tips would you give to an organization to make sure their workplace environment is supportive for LGBTQ+ parents?
Make sure your policies are inclusive in both their language and with the policy itself. Does your leave or family building support cover all the ways that LGBTQ+ people build a family? Even in the state of California when I applied for leave, none of the options really fit my situation which made it more challenging to complete their paperwork. If someone at your place of work goes to apply for leave, will it be clear that the policy will cover them?
Tell us about the joys of LGBTQ+ parenting?
Building our queer family community. When we were expecting, it was important for me that we had a doula present at the birth. During the COVID lockdowns, our doula’s set up a queer parents support group. Now, we have a group of friends with kids all the same ages that share in a lot of the same experiences and parenting philosophies with us. It’s been such a joy so far watching our kids start to build friendships and I am really looking forward to watching them all grow up together.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt on your parenting journey?
Ask for help. I’ve gotten so used to doing so much on my own and parenting is not something you can do just by yourself or even as just a couple. Knowing when and who to ask for help along with being willing to accept that help is crucial.