By: Jennifer Morales
Director of Movement Learning and Culture Change
This is My Family & Family Values@Work
Back in 2014, Family Values @ Work’s then-DC Director Wendy Chun-Hoon realized something about the paid leave policies our movement was winning for families around the country: Her family wouldn’t be included in those policies.
At the time, most state paid family and medical leave and local paid sick and safe day policies used a narrow definition of family that left out LGBTQ+ relationships like Wendy’s, as well as others that didn’t fit a nuclear family model.
Wendy joined forces with Jared Make at A Better Balance to found the Family Justice Network (FJN), a cross-movement coalition of advocates for LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, reproductive justice, organized labor, and more.
FJN members went to work educating policy makers and paid leave advocates about the need for a family definition broad enough to include all the relationships through which we give and receive care.
As new paid leave and paid sick days policies were drafted, these advocates and policy makers began including definitions of family that extended to those related “by blood or affinity.” Now, this inclusive concept is part of most new leave policies and our policy champions understand how key this provision is–because they’ve seen the positive impact on people’s lives.
We knew FJN’s work had broken through when, in 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act with a comprehensive family definition for its paid family leave and paid sick days programs.
Our work has changed the conversation about what it means to be a family and ensured that more people can be there to care for those they love. To learn more about FJN’s work, visit our This Is My Family campaign.