“Equality, Pride, Hope & Love – That’s a message we would all like our kids to embrace and understand.”
Every June is Pride Month where the world celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) community. Your kids will hear the words, see the flags and it’s common for them to start asking questions. At what age you discuss this topic with your children varies greatly on your cultural background, religion, parental choices and more, there is no fixed time and you as parents know when it’s best to discuss this with your child. This feature sets out a few simple ways to start that conversation when you are ready and how parents can explain Pride Month to their young children.
Explaining Pride Month to Children: Why Parents Need to Start the Conversation
There is no better time to start talking to your children about LGBTQ+ than during Pride Month, which commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and spreads awareness about the community and its history.
As any parent knows children absorb everything they see and hear and they are exposed to conversations daily that they may overhear from their peers, older siblings or even older students as school if they are in a larger school environment. It’s better to hear the ‘actual facts’ from people they trust than become confused and afraid over misconceptions they may hear for themselves.
Thankfully we are now living in a more tolerant and open world and kids may see their friends have 2 dads or 2 mums and they need to understand that’s OK and that it doesn’t matter who you love, if a child feels loved and accepted for who they are, they will in turn grow into an adult who loves and accepts other.
Opening up to kids about Pride at a young age can help shape how they feel about the community in general. Being exposed to diversity and inclusion at an early age allows children to better carry that mindset throughout their lives. We’ve provided some tips from experts on how to explain pride month to your child.
Keep it Simple & Honest
Use simple words and if possible use examples that your child can relate to, just because your child is asking you about the LGBTQ+ community, this does not necessarily mean they need all the facts, keep it age appropriate, it just means they are curious. You might have been surprised how early they start asking questions. Either way, being able to express what it means to be accepting, loving, and encouraging at a young age is a great thing.
According to therapist Parker Morris, the best thing to do is to bring it up to your kids naturally. She uses the example of asking your kids if they know what the rainbow flags mean as you walk or drive past. This gives parents a great opportunity to open the conversation and to normalize conversations like this for the future. A great book for kids is the story of The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.
By author Rob Sanders and illustrator Steven Salerno, this cute and essential groundbreaker is aimed at 5- to 8-year-olds. It tells the inspiring true story of the LGBT Pride flag. “Pride beautifully tells the history of both Uncle Harvey’s dream and his collaboration with Gilbert Baker (the flag’s designer, who passed away last year) to create a global symbol of equality and inclusion,” says Harvey Milk Foundation founder (and Milk’s nephew) Stuart Milk. (RHCBooks.com)
Listen Without Judgement
Keep the conversations light and positive to encourage a free accepting space for kids to ask questions and encourage healthy conversations. How parents manage those first questions over the LGBTQ+ community will stay with your kids, and more importantly can shape the way they may one day feel about themselves or others.
Lindsay Amer, an LGBTQ+ activist explains that “Kids really understand the idea of fairness. It’s something that’s very intrinsic to how they go about their lives day-to-day. And that also makes it a more active discussion. If something is unfair, we want to make it fair, right? So, you’re not concentrating on the act that is unfair but concentrating on how we can fix it.”
Promote Acceptance & Diversity
This one is a golden rule, not just concerning PRIDE but as a global concept, is being accepting of others especially in the diverse communities we live in and the schools we choose for our children, this is key to more progressive generations. You don’t need to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community or even know someone that is but it’s never too early to promote different types of love and why it is so important to support the LGBTQ+ community. As parents our job is to lovingly discuss this mindset with our kids, the seeds you sew now may make it easier for conversations should they arise later in life.
Be Positive & Affirming
Sadly the history of the LGBTQ+ community is faced with a lot of hatred and discrimination, and unfortunately, this negativity towards the community still exists today all over the world. So just remember to stay positive and meet your child where they’re at. It’s a good discussion to have about how people of all diverse groups have always had to work hard to fight discrimination and that it’s important to be brave and be true to ourselves.
For older kids who may already be struggling with their sexual identity give them a safe space to discuss this, remember it is NOT a reflection of you as a parent, this is not your journey it’s theirs, it’s so important to embrace and love them for exactly who they are.
Be a parent who enforces the message their kids will be loved for who they are, whoever they love.