Biyuti and I were talking about, among other things, the New Directions students' parents. This expands somewhat on that.
I was thinking in general about which of the students’ parents we saw early on, which we haven’t seen, and what the kids say about their parents. Burt appeared early on in the series. If I am remembering right, Chris Colfer said he played Kurt as terrified to come out to Burt. Burt said to Kurt, "I love you just as much." He told Principal Figgins and Will that Will couldn't discriminate against Kurt because Kurt was "queer as a three dollar bill." ("Wheels") It didn't sink in for Will, of course. Burt did his best to protect Kurt, and loves him unconditionally.
We haven't seen Brittany's parents. We've seen Santana in Brittany's room, and Artie in Brittany's room. It could mean her parents aren't around much. They weren't paying attention to her grades. I don't think Brittany has said anything about her parents. No one at school ever had an issue with Brittany being bisexual. The thing people concentrate on with her is her intellect, or the way her mind works differently. It seems like the students can only have one issue at a time.
Santana’s abuela and mother showed up in the third season, her mother in “Goodbye.” We didn’t see Mike’s parents until the third season, and we have yet to see Tina’s parents. We never saw Mercedes’ parents, though I said somewhere recently that she had a supportive church community. It feels to me like there’s something to which characters are considered important characters as far as how much they talk about their parents (Rachel: a lot), and when they have family members show up — I think of flashbacks as counting. Mercedes and Tina were regular characters right from the beginning.
Sugar's father, Al Motta, appeared in the same episode Sugar was introduced. Sugar is a minor character, though. Sam's sister and brother were shown in "Rumours," and his parents partway through the third season. Joe talked about his mother and father right away.
We've seen Cooper Anderson, but have yet to see Blaine's parents. I rewatched "Sexy" to see what Blaine said to Burt about his father. Blaine talked about his father's "many attempts at bonding" -- which seemed to have failed. About rebuilding a car, Blaine saw it as: "he thought getting my hands dirty might make me straight." And Blaine said, "I don't have the relationship with my dad that you do with Kurt." Blaine obviously gets plenty of financial support from his parents, but it doesn't seem that he feels like he gets unconditional love from his father. Blaine seems to be a pretty important character at this point, too, so perhaps we'll see his parents sometime. I liked that Cooper, for all his faults, was refreshingly not homophobic.
We’ve seen Jake and Puck’s father, and Jake has talked about his mother a good bit. I'm not sure how important a character Jake will be, but I think (hope) he'll be up there in importance. Jake's mother is poor, but is working extra shifts to pay for dance lessons for Jake. So Jake is getting support at home. Jake and Puck are bonding. Jake's getting support from New Directions, too. He's getting overt racism at school, and being mocked by the Black students, as well. People who do meta say that on Glee, dancing is expressing yourself, and Ryder encouraged Jake to express himself. Jake can't take it back now. He's a dancer. He's talking to the other ND members, he's singing, and he's dancing. Jake is integrated into ND. It's relatively a safe space for him.
Unique’s parents came to McKinley very early on in Unique’s time there. They said they were concerned about Unique's safety, and didn't want her to dress as a girl at school. Later Unique said that they kept talking about sending her to a camp for "little boys who like to wear dresses" or something along those lines. I'm sure they'd think they were doing it out of love, which is just another bad aspect of it. I believe there is reparative therapy for gender non-conforming children. I don't know if there are camps per se. It's still horrifying.
It seemed to me that the students who got racist treatment at school got love at home. Mercedes has her community. Mike is proud of being Asian. Tina had her self-acceptance struggle very much in public. I wonder what her parents are like. Still, in "Audition," Mike and Tina knew Sunshine had been sent to the crackhouse because "the Asian community is tight." Noting that in the Glee world Filipin@ is considered Asian. Santana was proud of being Hispanic.
I'm still trying to make a pattern of the importance of characters relative to when their family members are seen. Recurring characters have had parents show up when regular characters haven't. It feels like sometimes it's when needed, and sometimes it's to show that the character is important. No one's shown up for Tina, but she is, reluctantly at times, part of the Asian community.
Jake doesn't have a community like that, but he has his mother and brother. I still marvel at how much Puck and Jake look alike, especially in facial features. Jake's features might be a little finer, but there's a strong family resemblance. Puck is proud of being Jewish, and Jake has probably already picked up on that, or will soon. I hope Jake's mother appears on the show, at least in a flashback.
(Added after "Glee, Actually": Now we've seen Jake's mother, and Puck is making a commitment to look after Jake. We're seeing Jake getting support from his family. Jake sung a Hanukkah duet with Puck. So we're getting family and religion storylines with Jake and Puck, and Jake and Puck are bonded pretty strongly now.)
Artie considers himself part of the disability community. Various bloggers have said that he's managed to normalize himself. Artie has mentioned his father as driving him, so Artie's family is supportive. There was an episode about accessible transport for Artie. Artie can't get into a physical fight, which is thought of at McKinley as a large part of what makes you a man. However, he can use his brains and use someone as a frontman for him. I'm sure he'll have a great future in directing.
Biyuti was talking about how some of the parents of the queer kids seemed more understanding than others. If I am getting it right, they said it seemed like the parents (and Santana's abuela) who were people of color were less understanding.
I think it’s a mixed bag with the queer kids, with sexual orientation and Unique’s gender expression. As I said above, Blaine didn’t feel like he got unconditional love from his father. (I'm going to presume that Blaine's father is white. I could be wrong.) Various people doing meta have said that Blaine feels like he needs to perform to get love. Blaine wasn't really accepted in New Directions in the third season, though he didn't get bullied for being gay at McKinley. Kurt had already gone through all that there. Kurt was the only person who made a safe place for Blaine. Kurt had other emotional support, though, while Blaine really didn't. Blaine got to be one of the bros to some extent, but that's not exactly a great source for emotional support.
Unique’s not getting support at home or at school. She said so in “Nationals,” and it’s continuing now. The students in New Directions mostly don’t understand yet. Unique is friends with Marley, but Marley's got her own problems. I would like to see a friendship between Blaine and Unique, but Blaine's got his own problems. Singing may be what keeps Unique's inner self alive, at least until she's out of the kind of danger she is now. Imagine the threat of being sent away to a camp to be "fixed" hanging over your head. I don't know if that will come to a head in the next few episodes, or if it will go on all season.