When you think of June, what do you think of? The end of school? Summer’s start? Yes, those things are true! Maybe you already know that in the United States we also celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride this month. Perhaps you’ve even seen lots of rainbows everywhere. And maybe you have even heard that this year, the Pride flag will include more colors and a new design. Do you know why June is Pride month? This is the second installment in our Pride awareness blog series.
If you missed the first post on LGBTQ+ Language Awareness, check it out here.
LGBTQ+ History – Why does it matter?
If your children are not receiving this type of education in their school already, you may want to ask why. When we celebrate Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, and so on, it is because these communities have been underrepresented, marginalized, and traumatized. This is one small way to recognize. Pride month is the same.
There is a long history for the LGBTQ+ community. Like all history, it includes moments to celebrate and moments of struggle. Before June 2015, gay marriages were not recognized in all states. Discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation still happens. Congress is just now introducing the Equality Act to protect everyone against discrimination regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The LGBTQ+ community has been fighting this inequity for years.
Heroines in the LGBTQ+ community
LGBTQ+ Pride Month is about recognizing that not everyone has the same rights. It is also about celebrating activism and courage. In June 1969, there was a riot at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a place where LGBTQ+ people met and felt safe. It was illegal for homosexuals to gather at the time, so police came to raid. Several individuals are attributed with standing up to police and fighting for their rights.
Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are two of them. Marsha was a Black trans woman who fought for the rights of transgender youth experiencing homelessness. Sylvia was a Puerto Rican transgender and gay rights advocate. When we recognize Pride this month, it is important to note the history of the Gay Rights Movement and that the advocacy was spearheaded by two trans women of color.
The Rainbow flag redesigned
For many years, the rainbow flag has represented the LGBTQ+ community. In 2021, the flag underwent a redesign. We now add blue and pink for transgender pride, black to represent diversity, and brown to represent inclusivity. The addition of black and brown to the flag recognizes the connections and history between the LGBTQ+ community and Black Lives Matter.
Teaching our children about LGBTQ+ History
My children have two moms. In our family, teaching about the LGBTQ+ community is like teaching about our religions, cultures, and the different people that live in our neighborhood. We emphasize respect, love, and appreciation for everyone, openly talking about different types of families. We make it a point to celebrate the contributions of under-represented folks in history. Embedded in the conversation about rights, we discuss needs and wants–a common topic for children everywhere!. Finally, we encourage our children to join us when we are activists.
Teaching kids to use their voices
It is important to teach our children that they have a voice that matters and that when something is important to them, we will listen. As parents, this is sometimes the hardest thing, because, let’s be honest, we are not going to allow our kids to stay up as late as they want. But we also know that being an activist and an advocate means that we find something that needs changing and we do something about it.
I share about how my family teaches these things not to say this is the best or the only way. Far from it! But if your family structure is cisgendered (people who identify with their gender assigned at birth) or heteronormative (straight), you have the opportunity to increase awareness and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community this month and throughout the year. There are many, many resources available to teach children about the history of the LGBTQ+ community (more shared below). Consider teaching about LGBTQ+ history in similar ways to how you teach your kids about history in general. Use books and videos, stories about individual people who contributed to our society, or visit the American Art Museum or the National Museum of American History to see their exhibit, Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall.
Learning from others during Pride Month in June
How can you ensure that what you teach and how you teach is respectful, inclusive, and accurate? Learn more. Befriend others who can teach you more. Ask questions. Advocate for others’ rights. And consider doing this work with your kids, families, friends, community members, and others you have yet to meet.
More resources for teaching your kids and others about the history of the LGBTQ+ community:
A is for Activist by Innosanto Santoro – although not directly associated with Pride, this is a family favorite to read and discuss together. Here is a read-aloud video.
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders. With a read aloud here.
For kids who love Blue’s Clues, check out this fun song and video.