Edgeville Buzz

LGBTQ Families living in the EdgeVille

EdgeVille LGBTQ Families

EdgeVille LGBTQ Families

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals live in 99.3% of the nation, work in every field of the economy, and are raising at least 250,000 children (HRC). For LGBTQ parents, choosing where to raise a family can be an extremely challenging decision. Even in Chicago, the city known for it’s many unique and culturally diverse neighborhoods, LGBTQ parents must take many things into consideration before settling into a specific geographic location to call home. In many regards, the decision is parallel to that of heterosexual parent households. The majority of parents want access to good quality schools, a safe place to be able to walk around, access to affordable food, and a community of people they can relate to. Some of the unique challenges that face LGBTQ families are having other families that are also LGBTQ to relate to and who have shared lived experiences. Every parent wants a neighborhood that is accepting and supportive of their way of life regardless of their race, gender, orientation, class, or other demographic.

Having recently moved into the hood, mother Becky Staton comments “In order to feel secure and comfortable, we wanted to live in a neighborhood that reflects what our family looks like. Edgewater and Andersonville have families like ours and we feel accepted here.” Acceptance is something the community struggles with at large. Although Illinois has recently made major strides in passing laws for marriage equality, opinions and criticisms of equal rights are still rampant and impact much of our daily life. It matters greatly to those raising families to ensure they are bringing up their children in a place where their family isn’t targeted for being different, but is part of a larger community in which they feel represented.

Parents are most concerned about safety and making sure their children can grow up in a place without any physical or emotional harm. Mother Betty Tsamis explains “Edgewater is diverse in people, culture, food, and shopping. We love the energy of an urban environment while feeling like we live in a small neighborhood with nice neighbors. Although our son is a toddler now, the day will come when he is more independent and will walk the neighborhood without us. Gang warfare, something that occurred here recently, is something that I think about on a regular basis and something that needs to never again happen.” Crime and violence can cause a lot of fear for any parent and will always be a concern for all families. With the LGBTQ community constantly hearing about hate crimes targeted towards their community, safety becomes all the more important. HRC did a study that calculated that sexual orientation accounts for 17% of total hate crimes, which is the third-highest motivating factor for hate crimes. Race based bias are the most prevalent at 51%, followed by religion-based attacks at 18%. Hate crime statistics will persuade any underrepresented demographic or population to live in a neighborhood that reflects commonalities to their own family, in the interest of safety.

Chicago schools are an ongoing challenge in our city. With public schools having an enormous amount of challenges and private schools being unaffordable for most, there are not a great deal of options for any parent raising a child within Chicago’s city limits. Some of the schools in our neighborhood are Sacred Heart, Senn High School, Pierce Elementary, Courtenay, Goudy, Northside Catholic Academy, Hayt, Swift, among several other smaller schools. All of the elementary public schools in the area rank above average testing scores, according to the CPS website. Having options for schooling for children is a consistent theme for all parents.

While there are several neighborhoods in Chicago that are known for being or becoming more gay-friendly such as Lakeview, the South Loop, Pilsen, Rogers Park, Wicker Park, and Uptown. However, Andersonville and Edgewater have long been known for being LGBTQ friendly and even more supportive of their families. Aside from families with whom we can identify, we have a great selection of schools, parks, access to the lake, an amazing roster of restaurants and businesses, and perhaps more importantly, a vibrant and supportive community of neighbors, families, residents and friends. It should be noted that for many families, where you live, is not an actual choice. Having a choice about where you want to live and raise your family is a privilege. While there are LGBTQ families that live in every community and neighborhood Chicago has to offer, factors such as income level, familial ties, employment, and many other logistics, determine where a family calls home. Perhaps one day there may not need to be distinct neighborhoods in which LGBTQ families feel more welcome and safe than others.

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