Pride is much more than a parade: it symbolises the struggles the LGBTQ+ community endured and the hard-won progress it spent years fighting for. The month of June was chosen for LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots where police raided the now famous Stonewall Inn which occurred at the end of June 1969. The riots that followed lasted days and the March that has taken place every year since 1969 continues to commemorate that uprising.
Our local town held its first ever Pride event in 2019 and it was then that I came across the term “Pride Ally”. Prior to that I had always made a conscious effort to ensure I was parenting in a way that was inclusive however I knew I could have been doing more. Having a local Pride event encouraged me to do more research and find out more ways I could be modeling allyship within my family.
There are lots of ways in which you can introduce Pride to your children beyond being part of your local Pride parade. Art exhibits, film screenings and theater productions are among some of the creative ways to educate children. Letter-signings and petitions for legislative action are a more political way to get children involved. Children also learn from being pro-active by organising a fundraiser for example and donating to LGBTQ-serving groups.
I am a big believer of being open to children about gender diversity, sexual orientation and the many shapes families can take from a very young age. The conversations do not need to be direct but in the form of stories, when playing and through watching certain television shows.
When telling my own made up bedtime stories some children have 2 mummies or 2 daddies and sometimes one of the children in the story was maybe born a male and throughout the story changed to a female for example. Also, when playing with dolls the males sometimes like to wear dresses and sometimes the baby has 2 mums. There are lots of ways to start conversations with children through play.
Ensuring your child’s bookshelf includes LGBTQ+ inclusive books is also a great way of introducing diversity, equality and inclusivity into your home. Here are some books I recommend:
The Family Book by Todd Parr can familiarise very young children with diversity
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman
Daddy, Papa, and Me also by Lesléa Newman
The Little Book of Pride: The History, the People, the Parades byLewis Laney
The Pride Guide by Jo Langford offers information and support for LGBTQ youth, their parents and anyone who wants to be a better ally
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
My aim is not only to encourage my children to be LGBTQ+ advocates but to also let them know they are safe to be whoever they identify to be as they get older. My hope is they will feel safe to communicate with me if they are questioning their identity as they grow up and to know their individuality will always be supported.
It was only a few weeks ago I could hear my 5 year old daughter, Rose, talking to her 5 year old friend outside. Rose was explaining it is ok for “two girls to get married”. Her friend argued with her and told her it wasn’t, “girls can only marry boys” she said. That evening I brought the conversation up with Rose. We talked it through and I assured her that she was correct. We also talked about what she would do if she was witness to a child being mean to another child because of their preferences and identity. For example, we thought about some ways she could support a boy who was being laughed at for choosing a pink balloon at a party. With my 8 year old we talk about the use of terms such as “that is so gay” and why not to use it.
PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality programme says in an excellent free online guide to being a straight ally. “Go online. Ask questions. Do some research. Reach out to other allies who might have grappled with the same challenge.”
The guide suggests studying a glossary of “gay-b-c’s” to get comfortable using the terms associated with the LGBTQ community. Being an ally means respecting pronouns, titles and names. I remember having a conversation with a friend last year, before our local Pride event and they explained the term non-binary to me. I have to admit, I felt overwhelmed and worried about putting myself in a situation where I used the wrong term. However my friend reassured me that we are not expected to know every term, and it is totally OK (and welcome) to simply ask a person which pronoun(s) to use if you aren’t sure. My friend also suggested I start using gender-neutral terms (like “they,” “them” or “their”) to avoid mis-gendering somebody.
I would love to hear your experiences, challenges and resources in relation to being a Pride Ally Family.
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