The Inquiry

This team was curious about what parents and caregivers of young children needed to benefit from existing services available to families in Napa County. Early conversations highlighted that most parents/caregivers – particularly LGBTQ parents – did not feel visible, heard or understood when accessing services, particularly health and mental health services.

The Experiment

The team hosted a “design session” for LGBTQ families (LGBTQ parents and parents of LGBTQ youth) to have conversations with each other about their experiences in Napa County accessing services. The team wanted to know if bringing these parents/families together would help them feel more connected and empowered.

The Outcomes

The team and several of the LGBTQ parents from the original design session conducted several prototypes in the months that followed.

To increase visibility of community support, the team and parents approached Napa City Council during public comment encouraging them to fly the Rainbow Flag during Pride Month. City Council decided to agendize the decision, and dozens of community members came to and spoke at the City Council meeting. In a 5-1 vote, City Council voted in favor of flying the Rainbow Flag at City Hall for the month of June. Following this success, every city in Napa and Napa County quickly followed suit and agendized and voted (unanimously) in favor of flying Rainbow Flags for Pride Month. This was an historical move for Napa County towards celebrating diversity and showing support for the LGBTQ community that lives here.

To increase connection between LGBTQ families and LGBTQ ally families, the LGBTQ parents from the original design session hosted a Rainbow Play Date for Pride Month. This event was meant to be a family friendly LGBTQ Pride celebration and included rainbow crafts, face painting, snacks, LGBTQ inclusive story time, a children’s parade at the park, and several give aways (including an LGBTQ inclusive children’s book for each family.  120 parents and children (41 children 0-5 years old) attended the event.

The Rainbow Play Date idea was so well received that the LGBTQ parent organizers have continued the Rainbow Play Dates on a monthly basis with less fanfare. On average, 30 parents and children attend the monthly Rainbow Play Dates and they have evolved to be a safe and inclusive space for many diverse families.

“We are so grateful you have started this group and are building a community that feels safe and awesome to us.” (multiracial family)

“Thanks so much for being an organizer and making today happen. Both [my partner] and I had so many great conversations and found a sense of community we feel we’ve been missing for so long. It’s a gift. And I think [our child] had fun too!” (multiracial adoptive family)

Read the Napa Valley Register article about Rainbow Play Dates.

Team Rainbow has expanded to include the active LGBTQ parents and other community members that were involved in the original prototypes. The core group – Rainbow Action Network – has formed to continue efforts to make the Napa Valley a welcoming and supportive place for LGBTQ community members and visitors, by advocating for community and organization level change. Some of their recent or current projects include:

  • Added LGBTQ inclusive children’s books to the Napa County Library
  • Prototyping Rainbow Kits to make preschool classrooms more LGBTQ and gender inclusive
  • On the horizon: Empowering allies to be more active and changing the language around gender and children

Learn More about Rainbow Action Network.