LGBT Families and Oakland Schools

Parent Q&A

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  • We are looking for elementary schools (preferably public, open to private) in the Oakland Hills that have supportive communities and culture for LGBT families. We are two moms and unfortunately have already experienced discrimination in our small school community, so wanting to get a better feel for the different schools. 

    Oakland Hills Schools considering (Redwood Heights, Montclair, Thornhill, Crocker Highlands, Sequoia, Glenview, Hillcrest; and Private: Head Royce, Bentley, Park Day, Redwood Day)

    Thank you!

    Kaiser school, formerly Henry J Kaiser Jr school in Hiller highlands near Bentley school. We are finishing our 10rh year sending 2 boys through k-6 there. Very diverse open supportive community with families from all over Oakland. LGBTQ families, single parents, adoptive families, mixed/multi ethnic-race families, you name it. We LOVE Kaiser. Check it out!

    HI!  I am surpised and sorry to hear about discrimination. We have kids 14 and 17 who went through Oakland schools and have never experienced discrimination- it was a complete non issue. The only thing I would say is  we are often called by the other mom's names, but it wasn't discrimination, just that we all learned adults by the parent of so and so.  Dad's club went out of their way to invite us, boy scouts went out of their way to say we would be welcome, and the "Father/ Daughter dance became the "Adult/ Child" dance when we were there. We know parents of a child who identified as trans at Thornhill and the school went out of their way to education teachers and the community to support that child.  I think any of the hills schools would welcome any type of family structure.

    I can't speak to the other schools but we are just about to start at Glenview and I've already met several LGBT families even in the prep for kindergarten. The principal (who is unfortunately leaving but I assume/hope the culture she helped create will carry on) made a point at the info day to say that they have many LGBT identified teachers and senior leadership and that the school is really supportive of all kinds of families, gender non-conforming kids etc. We are a not an LGBT family but our kids came to us in a non-traditional way so it was important that we find a school where diverse ways of being a family was an open discussion. Glenview happens to be our neighborhood school so I was partly already assuming we'd end up there, really, but I was really encouraged that out of 7 tours I went on (private and public, many of the schools you mentioned) it was the only school where this was proactively raised. FYI I am also a twin parent if you want to reach out (assuming based on your handle!) and I'm happy to share more.


    We are also a same sex couple with a child in Oakland. We were also wondering about the schools you recommend or avoid. If you have any suggestions or get feedback please let us know.

    Thank you


    We are going to The Academy this fall for our 6th grade. At the recent open house for new familiar. I met two LGBT families. Everyone seems welcoming. It’s s private school and maybe more progressive with civil rights and open framework. The school is academic teaching French and Latin in middle school. Also they teach 1.5 grade above level. Hope this is helpful!

    I recommend expanding the schools you are considering to include Kaiser Elementary.  It is a small public school not far from Bentley.  We are also a two mom family, and found Kaiser not only to be supportive, but inviting and welcoming of our family.  During the 10 years we spent at spent at Kaiser with our two kids, we never experienced discrimination and were never the only LGBT family in a classroom.  The teachers and staff are loving and committed to both academic and social-emotional development for all kids.

    Aurora has a strong LGBTQ community with many out queer folks on staff.  They even celebrate Pride Day.  It's in Upper Rockridge attached to Holy Names HS.

    Sequoia is super LGBTQ friendly and an awesome school!

    I would totally and wholeheartedly recommend Aurora School in the Oakland Hills in Upper Rockridge near Broadway Terrace.  It's a small, independent progressive school.  Progressive, meaning the type of learning they offer (project based, hands on, oriented to each kid's level, etc) and the attitude towards inclusiveness.  We are also a two-Mom family with a son who has been at Aurora since kindergarten and who will be a 3rd grader there next year. We have always felt completely part of the community and have always felt all families regardless of their configuration are treated with the same respect.  I have been part of the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee and really believe that the school is committed to making sure all the kids and families feel welcome and included. 

    Hi there. We are a two mom family and our son is just finishing 2nd grade at Aurora school which is a small private elementary school off Broadway Terrace/Harbord Ave in the Oakland hills, between Montclair and Rockridge. We've been at the school since kindergarten and plan to stay through fifth grade, and even middle school, if they start one!

    I can't say enough good things about Aurora. It is led by a very smart and skillful head of school, and her team of gay-positive, inclusive teachers. The school creates an environment of openness to everyone, and as such, helps everyone feel like they belong, whether they're adopted, have learning differences, divorced parents, single parent or two moms (no two dad families at present). This leads to a very collaborative and inclusive experience, as well as early intervention whenever anything problematic happens on the yard. Staff provide a lot of supervision, and help the kids "talk it out" when needed.

    Aurora's summer camps are an excellent introduction to the school, so you might explore them for your child too. Josh Johnson, who runs the camps, is a pivotal person at the school throughout the year, and hires alumni as camp counselors as well as specialists for the theater arts and creative camps on offer.

    Sorry to hear that you've had a rough go so far. We are a two-mom family and have had a wonderful experience at St. Paul's Episcopal School (SPES) in Oakland. We have both a 6th grader and a 4th grader. In both grades, there are multiple two-mom families, as I think there are in every grade. The teachers are great in terms of how they talk about families in the classes, making sure to include LGBT stories and history in the curriculum, not as a "token" but as part of the larger inclusive atmosphere in the school.  The teachers are always great with both of us and there are several LGBT teachers on staff. The school always has a contingent in the Pride parade in Oakland and it's a great mix of all the families, those who are LGBT and many allies, which is great for all to see and feel the support. I can't say enough about how great SPES is in terms of LGBT issues and overall, is a wonderful community. We are still so thankful to have found the school and think the world of it! 

    Agreed that both St. Paul's and Kaiser should be added to your list--we are at one of those and have good friends at the other and both are very supportive school communities for LGBTQ families. You don't say which of the publics on your list is your neighborhood school--that's important, since all of the schools you list have lengthy waiting lists and several of them did not take all of the neighborhood families this past year. So you may not want to spend too much time deliberating over those you're very unlikely to get into. Kaiser and Montclair take the most non-neighborhood kids for kindergarten, and Sequoia and Glenview take a small number. The other four are very difficult to get seats at if you do not live in the neighborhood. If your child is older than kindergarten, you may have better luck, but it's still very hit or miss with the in-demand schools and you may need to be willing to wait into the first weeks of school.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

First LGBT family at our middle school placement?

April 2015

We were assigned a small OUSD middle school for our 6th grader and recently learned we would be the first LGBT family to their knowledge. I have some real reservations about this despite assurances (which I believe) that school leadership works to create an inclusive culture.

I'd love to hear from other LGBT families. Have you been in a position to be a pioneer like this. I'm just not sure it would be healthy for our child to be the only one with GLBT parents.

In elementary school, our child has already faced homophobic taunts, etc. Handling it well, but I feel like I just long for something better for all of us.

That said, this school would, in other ways, meet some special learning needs we must address quite well. Wishing we didn't have to trade one for the other. Navigating LBGT

Hi! If the small OUSD middle school you have been assigned is Claremont, please contact me, and I will put you in touch with existing LGBT families as well as a few other LGBT families of rising sixth graders and the LGBT staff members who are working on putting together a club for LGBTQ and allies for the 2015-2016 school year. I am sure they would relish your support. Also - welcome! Shona

OUSD Elementary options for queer family

Jan 2013

We are a two mom family that lives in North Oakland near the Emeryville border and are just beginning to explore kindergarten options for our 3 year old. We both work out East so location is not a big issue, as we'll be driving to work anyhow. We're interested in hearing from others about OUSD public elementary schools that are known for being queer friendly or where the children of queer folks might feel more safe. Our goal is to have a few public elementary options that would work well when we get ready to complete the OUSD school choice process next fall. Any feedback is very much appreciated! North Oakland Mamas

Kaiser Elementary ! It's a wonderful school! I am a single lesbian and have 2 sons there. I couldn't be happier with the school, teachers, and the amazing community which represents true diversity with a very visible queer/alternative family contingent. There will be an open house on Jan 15th. If you can't make that, call to arrange another time to visit. Valerie

Check out Kaiser Elementary . They are very LGBT friendly and have many same sex parent families. They also have a very active yahoo group where you can ask more questions. Maya

Sequoia Elementary , in the Dimond district (on Lincoln Ave between 580 & 13) has a lot of two mommy families. I don't have kids there, but my neighbors who do love the school. Sequoia neighbor

Hi Queer Mamas! Oakland's Kaiser Elementary should be high on your list! We boast lots of queer families (at least 10% of the school), including single-parented, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans parented families, and several queer staff and teachers. You'll also find foster kids, trans-racially adopted kids and kids from a vast array of socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. There are kids who are 'like' my kid in lots of different ways, and there are lots of kids who are different--which is exactly what I want; diversity is valued and modeled in a host of different ways. His first grade class skipped mother/father's days last year in lieu of 'family' day. Kaiser is also a CA distinguished school, with great test scores, rich after school offerings and a devoted parent base. Good luck with your search. kaiser mom

Check out Kaiser Elementary . It's a wonderful, inclusive school just a 10 minute drive from North Oakland. C

Hello North Oakland Mamas! My experience is that pretty much all OUSD schools are queer friendly. When we began our quest 2 years ago the principal at Kaiser was a wonderful gay man, who clearly made all types of diversity a priority and a celebration, so that might be a good fit.

I am a mom at Sequoia Elementary in the Dimond District. I love our school, and we have a lot of diversity in terms of LGBT parents, racial diversity, and economic diversity. It is also a school where parents are involved and supportive.

In terms of safety, I think here in the Bay Area especially we are very aware of bullying and it is not tolerated. I encourage you to check out Sequoia. Fellow mom

Henry J. Kaiser Elementary ! See former BPN reviews. Many excellent teachers, great after school programs, terrific diverse families. Best of Oakland in so many ways. Our now-6th grader loved every K-5 minute there and continues to be close to many of her Kaiser friends. Quick drive from N Oakland,esp if you are heading toward the tunnel anyway. Not sure what is happening with possible closure or expansion, but I'm sure someone can fill you in. Also check out Peralta and NOCCS both in N. Oakland. Former Kaiser mama

Peralta and Kaiser are the north Oakland schools that spring to mind when you say you want a queer-friendly environment. I have been a Peralta parent for several years and there are a number of same-sex parents at the school. I hope some of them will respond to you. Kaiser also touts themselves as LBGT-friendly (in fact, in this very same newsletter they announced a tour and listed this as one of their qualities). Two excellent schools--visit them both! Peralta parent

Kaiser Elementary in OUSD is a great school for LGBT families, as well as transracial/adopted/foster families. The school is very welcoming and parent involvement is high. consider Kaiser

I wanted to give another shout-out for Sequoia as there are a number of happy queer families among us, within a LGBT friendly community. Not only that, it's a wonderful school with a fun, down-to-earth, active parent community, with great kids and teachers. I highly recommend checking us out! You can take a tour by calling the office at 510-531-6696. Happy Sequoia Parent


Kids of LGBT families experience: Oakland schools

Nov 2010


We are a two mom family and are planning to do Oakland public schools open-enrollment for our daughter for fall 2011. We are particularly interested in sending her to a school where there are other open LGBT families and where this diversity is appreciated and a non-issue. If anyone has any personal experience with Sequoia Elementary, Redwood Heights, Thornhill, Montclaire, Melrose, or Laurel on this issue we'd love to hear. Feel free to email off-list if you'd prefer. Thank you!

My child currently attends Sequoia and I have another who will begin next year. Sequoia is the most diverse school I can imagine (I'm a teacher myself), and I am glad that the appreciation of diversity at Sequoia includes LGBT families as well. One of the very first things I noticed at the school were gay-positive posters in several classrooms. I know of several kids with two moms or two dads at the school. Last year there was a diversity night where a movie about different kinds of families (adoptive, gay, grandparents raising grandkids) was shown, and a panel of parents spoke afterwards. There are a couple of openly gay members on staff. Recently there has been discussion about bullying around kids' ideas about how girls and boys ''should'' act and I've been grateful for that. Not everyone at Sequoia feels the same way or agrees all the time but there is a respectful and caring culture that many, many different kinds of families fit into at our little school. Sequoia Mom

Try Henry J Kaiser Elementary ! We have families of all stripes and types of diversity (gay and lesbian, mixed race, multi-race and we are from all over Oakland), nice community feel, arts enrichment, openly gay principal, many excellent teachers and fine API scores, good before- and after-care and afterschool enrichment. Love our Kaiser families of all kinds!

It would be worth it to put your child's name into the lottery for NOCCS (North Oakland Community Charter School). We are also a two-mom family, and I cannot imagine a more welcoming, inclusive and affirming environment for our daughter. Respect for all kinds of diversity, including family diversity, is an integral part of the curriculum and the school community, and each child's experience/background is validated. Definitely check it out. happy NOCCS parent

You didn't mention Kaiser School , but it is a very welcoming community. I am a lesbian mom and I feel very supported there. I'm very happy to see all kinds of diversity represented by the families at Kaiser(single parent, adoptive, transracial, gay/lesbian parents,etc). I live in the Laurel and looked into that school 3 years ago when I was looking for a kindergarten for my son. While I was told that they accept all families, I didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling (and they don't have aftercare which I need). The Kaiser principal is an out gay man and father. The motto for Kaiser School is ''A Fabulous Oakland School!'' I invite you to go an upcoming open house. valerie


Gay Friendly Schools in Oakland

Feb 2005


We are considering moving to Oakland to send our child to Park Day School since we are highly impressed by the Gay/Lesbian/Transgender awareness as an integral part of their curiculum. Can anyone tell us what your feelings about Chabot elementary and LGBT issues/family presence/ and acknowledgement ? ALso, If we leave SF and send her to a private lower and middle school, is there any public high school in oakland that would not be like throwing her to the wolves at that point? Not sure if we can pull off 12 yrs of private school-financially- and people have reccommended building a strong foundation of confidance and pride and inclusion in younger years. ANy LGBT families out there - struggling financially- with strong thoughts about east bay vs sf schools k ALL THROUGH 12? annon

We're a two-dad family living in Oakland and though our ''rankings'' of different school options on a LGBT sensitivity spectrum are more anecdotal than empirical at this point, we have asked many of the same questions. Unfortunately, we don't know anything about Chabot's record in this regard, but if you're considering relocating to Oakland, I encourage you to look at the Redwood Heights neighborhood. Our daughter will be starting K at Redwood Heights Elementary this fall. This is the one Oakland public school that we've heard has a reputation for being especially sensitive to and familiar with gay families. For us, it's less important that family diversity be a formal part of the curriculum than that it be something that school staff and leadership are simply comfortable and familiar with. Our thinking is that such familiarity is either an indicator of or an incentive for higher numbers of gay families to be part of the school, which in the end, is what we really want for us and for our daughter. We've not had any upfront conversations with the principal or staff at RHES about this, but this is in part due to the fact that we don't think its necessary: when we went to the K orientation, we counted at least three lesbian couples in attendance among the roughly 30 families that were there. For middle school, we alternate between girding ourselves for private school tuition or waiting to see which small public schools crop up in OUSD over the next 5-6 years (the district's reform efforts are not to be discounted at this point, we feel, and we think we'll have more options in 5 years than we do now). But if there's one area where we think private school is likely, it's middle school, and our current interest is in the Julia Morgan School for Girls. Though light years away, a high school that interests us is the new Oakland School for the Arts ( There's been some traffic about this school on the list, and it appears to be very solid academically, as well as a small and supportive environment. Also making me lean toward this school is that our daughter already shows a genuine interest in song, dance, and theater, but who knows where that will be when she's ready for high school. Feel free to email me.

To the family considering moving to Oakland to have their child attend Park Day School : I cannot respond to your questions about high school, and about East Bay vs. S.F. But I can strongly support your considering Park Day School for your child and your family. We are an LGBT family and I cannot recommend it highly enough for it's integration of LGBT families and kids. We feel very good about the social- emotional foundation our kids are receiving at Park coming from a ''different'' family, and their exposure and comfort with families of all types there. It is an excellent school in many other ways as well, of course! anon

I would suggest checking out Kaiser Elementary School (25 South Hill Court Oakland, 94618), which is very near Chabot. Kaiser is VERY welcoming towards LGBT families. The staff is diverse and warm. You will feel very at home... and your child will receive an excellent education experience. You can call or drop by the school anytime to see how the campus operates. Just check into the office. Renae