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New Group Launches to Target Conservatives’ Claim to So-Called “Family Values”

Family Story will push back against harmful stereotypes about families today; advocate for dignity and value of a wider range of family arrangements.

See video here: http://familystoryproject.org/video/

Two prominent family activists and advocates, Mia Birdsong and Nicole Rodgers, launched a new campaign called Family Story today to push back on Conservatives’ claim to so-called “family values.”

Last week, in an article in Salon, Rodgers and Birdsong called for an end to nuclear family privilege. In it, they conclude, “We have so much to learn from the wisdom and resourcefulness of those whose families have too long been thought of as broken, when really, they are sewn together by ingenuity and love against all kinds of odds.”

Rodgers, Family Story’s Founder and Co-Director, is also founder of the popular website Role Reboot, which publishes essays about gender, culture, family and “life off script.” Family Story grew out of years of Rodgers’ research. Her status-quo-challenging article about the need for broader vision of family was published on the opinion page of the Washington Post earlier this year.

Birdsong, Family Story’s Co-Director, is former Vice President of the anti-poverty organization Family Independence Initiative and the creator of the Torchlight Prize. Her popular and powerful TED talk, delivered at TEDWomen in summer of 2015, challenges conventional beliefs about people who are poor.

Family Story launched this week with a moving video and challenge to change the conversation about families. The two were inspired to launch Family Story after growing frustrated by the largely negative political and cultural response to changes in American family structures that lamented its “breakdown,” especially in reference to conservative attacks on black families and single-parent families.

“Family Story is not, and will never be, about bashing nuclear families,” said Rodgers. “Two married parents raising children can be a wonderful thing; it’s just not the best or only thing. This is about building a bigger tent and respecting the dignity and value of a wider range of family arrangements.” Added Birdsong, “It’s no surprise that conservatives have such limited, regressive views on what makes a ‘good’ family. But too few progressive advocates, policymakers, and pundits are offering a counter narrative. There are incredible, beautiful families who have figured out how to make it work outside the nuclear family model. It’s past time we lift up their stories.”

The two intend to create new research, messaging, and cultural narratives about families for the field. The group will fill a void when it comes to a progressive vision of good families beyond nuclear families headed by straight and gay married parents, a role they argue is critical, considering the significant number of people whose households don’t fit this description.

“I hate that ‘Family Values’ has become a meaningless term often tossed around by social conservatives,” said Rodgers, “while all around us, there are families living truly important values of love, support, and connectedness who are left out. I decided it was time to burn the old paradigm down and build something authentic and meaningful in its ashes.”

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