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Lisa Zilligen knows what it's like to grow up with a gay parent. Raised in Oak Park by a single, gay dad, kids taunted her, saying she would grow up to be just like her dad. The kids' parents were just as bad.
"I had no friends because of the parents. I couldn't go to anyone's house or talk to anyone on the phone," she remembers. "Everyone loved my dad-he volunteered and helped out a lot-but people felt very uncomfortable about children being around him in a different environment."
So when a teacher recently told Zilligen that children had teased her daughter Danielle about having two moms, Zilligen reminded Danielle that families come in different packages. "I told her that, even though we're part of the LGBTQ community, we're still part of society. We can have children if we want to, whether it's with another woman or two men. We have to be happy with ourselves and try not to worry about other people."
Zilligen, who recently split from her partner, is now raising three children, ages 2, 6 and 8, by herself. She had hoped life would be easier for her children than it was for her, but history is repeating itself both in her sexuality and her single-parent status.
She describes her father as an amazing parent who was open about being gay and who made parenting a priority. She hopes she can do the same with her children.
"Straight, gay, male, women, transgender-we're all equal and good parents. Don't judge someone because of their sexual orientation; judge them on their parenting skills," Zilligen says.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.