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SAFE at School: Meet Mo Bailey

safe at school Aug 30, 2022

Making Your Home a Place Kids Want To Be

For many kiddos, the start of school is the perfect time to meet new students, expand their friend group, or connect more fully with their classmates. As a parent, it can be nerve-wracking to let our kiddo spend time in a new friend’s house. As a parent of an LGBTQ+ human, it can be terrifying. One of the best ways to ensure our kids and their LGBTQ+ friends are spending time in a safe environment is to open our home to them after school and on weekends. Being an ally is the first and most important step to creating a safe space for our kiddos. This guide focuses on the second most important thing: creating an inviting and awesome physical space. 

Co-create a space to hang out.

Kids these days are all about the aesthetics. They want to spend time in a space that feels really good to them, even if it wouldn’t be your design choice. Think of your kid as a partner in curating the space and give them some freedom to be creative. 

  • Pick the space.You can get creative if you don’t have a spare room for kids to spend time. The designated space may be the kiddo’s bedroom or one end of the storage room. It doesn’t need to be fancy- just clean and usable.
  • Set a budget. Use this as an opportunity to talk and learn about budgeting. Give your kiddo an amount, whether $30 or $1000, and make sure they stick to it. The budget could include paint, new furniture, new décor, and more. Look up DIY projects or browse garage sales if you don’t have much money to work with! 
  • Involve friends. If there are some kids you know will be regulars, include them in the re-design. Having ownership in the project will ensure kids WANT to spend time in the space. 

Have snacks at the ready.

Kids are always hungry. Mostly, they want junk food. As a parent, you have the never-ending job of negotiating healthy choices, food preferences, and ingredient limitations. Do your best and if you can, let the kids help make decisions.

  • Get food they want. Healthy food is important, but it’s not helpful if it gets wasted. Just ask your kids what kind of snacks they want.
  • Give refrigerator rights. Nothing will make your kid’s friends feel like they belong more than letting them help themselves to your food.
  • Designate a shelfIt may be best for everyone if you designate a shelf (or basket) of snacks that are fair game. If it’s a snack anyone can eat at any time- it’s in the basket. If it’s a super specific ingredient you bought out of town for a recipe you’ve been waiting to try for 6 months- keep it out of the basket.

Signal your home is an LGBTQ+ friendly space.

Kids want to know right from the start what kind of house they are in and how authentic they can be. We hope you’ll get the chance to have meaningful and important conversations about allyship but that may not happen right away. In the meantime, you can drop some helpful hints.

  • Fly a Pride FlagNothing says “I’m an ally” quite like flying a rainbow, progress, or ally flag outside your house for all to see. 
  • Display queer art*LGBTQ+ art can look like affirming quotations, art with LGBTQ+ themes, or rainbow décor. *Please do this in a way that is meaningful and authentic to your home’s aesthetic. Kids can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. 

 Set the rules and trust your kids.

Kids, despite what they may say, want clear boundaries. Talk to your household about rules that make sense for your family. These might include quiet time after 10 PM, clean up after yourself, no smoking in the house, when to get an adult involved in a conflict, homework before screen time etc.

  • Hold a meeting. If possible, hold a meeting with the kiddos who frequent your home and come up with the house rules together. This gives everyone some ownership and responsibility in ensuring the rules are followed.
  • Post the rules. Especially if you have multiple friends in and out of the house, posting the rules in a visible spot makes sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Trust your kids. Once the rules have been set, trust your kids to follow them and give appropriate consequences when they don’t. Give positive feedback when you see rules being followed.

Hear more from Mo Bailey about ways in which you can create safe spaces outside of school walls at our SAFE at School Event. We will also hear from Josh Covington, a former school principal, about legal rights and from Jennifer Boudrye, a school counselor and parent coach who will provide information to help with additional emotional support for LGBTQ+ teens and tweens. 

Register today for our SAFE at School Event hosted on Zoom on Tuesday, September 13 at 5pm PT/8pm ET! 

About the Author

Mo Bailey is an empowerment coach, captivating speaker, and Community Organizer who believes in the power of story to connect, heal, and inspire people. 

Mo's purpose in life extends beyond her professional roles. She deeply values creating safe spaces where all people feel worthy of belonging. Her work with CASA, the Norfolk Diversity Council, and Norfolk Area.

Pride is her way of trying to make her corner of the world a better place. Mo lives in Norfolk, NE with the three loves of her life: her wife, Angie; their mini doxie, Oaklie; and their pomchipoo, Myla. 


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