Our Board bid a fond farewell to the last founding Board / Committee member in 2022, as our Co-Chair Scott Brunelle (he/him) stepped down. Scott leaves an incredible legacy as a Board member and will continue his support of Rainbow Families with his ongoing leadership of the Early Childhood Educator strategy, “seeing the world be a better place for all children of LGBTQ+ parents has always been and remains a personal passion”.
Calling his family loving, supportive, and proud, Scott has three children with his spouse Robert. They co-parent their daughters, who are 16 and 20, with a lesbian couple, and their 11-year-old son “was born with the help of a beautiful surrogate”.
With two decades of parenting under his belt, Scott has had his share of inappropriate questions and cites not answering them as a key component to family harmony. Questions such as “who is the real dad” have often threatened to damage the calm. “Let the person who asked that question know that it is invasive and that you are both the real parent.” Scott also recommends being confident in sharing simple information about your family and coming out up front so your children don’t have to do so for you. “I always introduce us as a two dad family within a few minutes to anyone we will likely have regular contact with, such as parents at my son’s school. Coming out early means our children don’t need to worry about hiding any aspect of their family or coming out (with LGBTQ+ parents) later on their own.”
Knowing the unique challenges LGBTQ+ parents face, Scott firmly believes that we all deserve support and encouragement as we raise our families. Rainbow Families was born of a desire to make that support available and help other parents enjoy the experience. As a founding member of Rainbow Families, Scott also understands how some of our children will face discrimination based on their family structure at some point, and truly wanted an organisation focused on ending that discrimination.
Back in 2015 Scott was a part of the original committee that brought Rainbow Families into existence. “I had been coordinating social and an educational events for Gay Dads NSW since 2011. During this time, I developed the belief that all LGBTQ+ parents experience similar things once our children are born and that we would be able to do more if we combined into one organisation.” After many calls over several years, the Gay Dads along with the lesbian mums’ group commenced the work required to combine and create one community.
On his involvement with the Rainbow Families Board, Scott says that he wanted “to be a part of creating a new organisation that would support all LGBTQ+ parents and their children. Also to make the world a better place with less discrimination for children of LGBTQ+ parents”.
Something that you may not know about Scott is that he was actually the person to come up with the name Rainbow Families and propose it to the establishing committee. Approved with a unanimous vote, everyone involved felt the name was all encompassing and perfect for the new organisation, “we all agreed that we believed that both children and parents (and parents-to-be) were essential to support, not just babies or children, and the Rainbow Families name spoke to this purpose of serving the whole family”.
Along with the fresh start of a new name, Scott and some other volunteers also developed the initial brand foundation and key messages, many of which Rainbow Families still uses today. This work has helped to ensure brand consistency as the organisation established itself and became known to other organisations, prospective supporters, and the LGBTQ+ community. Part of this original brand foundation is “connecting, supporting, empowering”, three words which Scott firmly believes still describe the organisation today.
In keeping with his marketing background, Scott helped to develop the first Rainbow Families website back in 2016, and worked as a Project Sponsor for the current website in 2021, supporting the volunteers who put this website together. In other notable achievements, Scott developed the first three year strategy and secured the first annual corporate supporters IVF Australia, Barnardos, Deloitte and American Express, guaranteeing a new source of regular unrestricted revenue.
As Scott’s passion lies in supporting LGBTQ+ families, it will likely come as no surprise to learn of the amazing community resources for which he helped bring to life. From running three years of Making Rainbow Families for prospective parents, to working with the author Jac Tomlins to update the School Support Guide and the Early Years Support Guide for Rainbow Families. Scott has put his community first not just with life changing education, but also by assuring ongoing funding for Rainbow Families to continue its work.
We are about to launch what is arguably Scott’s greatest achievement with Rainbow Families, and the one he is perhaps most proud of. In collaboration with Early Childhood Australia, Scott has developed a learning resource for all educators of children from birth to eight years old. In February the Family Diversity training will roll out nationally and the strategy aims to create early awareness among all children on family diversity, normalising that all families are different. The aim is that children of diverse families, including LGBTQ+ parented families, will experience less discrimination and disadvantage as they grow up.
Looking to the future, Scott hopes to see Rainbow Families “continue moving out of our safe space, which is doing things to support our community, and see the organisation do more to educate the broader public on our families and work to reduce the discrimination and disadvantage that our children will face (such as bullying and name calling) as they grow up due to their family structure. While it is great that we build up our community, many of the challenges our children will face happen when they intersect with the wider community, so by adding more focus here, we make the world a better place for our children”.
As Scott hands over to the new Board, he advises the organisation not to be afraid of taking risks and stepping outside of their comfort zones. “I had never run an event for prospective parents or worked with a peak body to create a new national training package on family diversity education, but I did it. We won't ever get there if we wait to find people with the perfect skills to do everything. Raise your hand to lead challenging projects with lofty goals. You too can do it and leave a lasting legacy.”
A legacy is certainly what Scott leaves from his time in the Board, and no doubt he will continue to be a big part of the work Rainbow Families does. Thank you Scott, we hope you enjoy a bit more free time now!