Our families come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, but we can each be examples of how to be LGBTQ allies for children. Some families are already on their way, and that’s great. For others, perhaps this year is their first time taking notice of Pride Month. However, new allies could find that the hardest part about teaching our families to become allies may be that we are still figuring out how to be good LGBTQ allies ourselves.
June, as Pride Month, may be a good time to ask whether our younger kids are old enough to start learning about what it means to be inclusive. Schools today are teaching more about inclusivity, but, ultimately, parents can often become the best sources to help their kids understand and accept the broad spectrums of human sexuality and gender expression. Here are a few ideas to help your good example as an LGBTQ ally positively influence the children in your life:
1. Be an LGBTQ ally year-round. It’s easy to love the rainbow Snapchat filters and colorful parades Pride Month brings in June. But true allies show up even when it’s not time to celebrate. True allies build inclusive social circles organically, participate frequently in activism, and learn more about how to support the LGBTQ community. Living the message in these ways makes the importance of being an LGBTQ ally visible to children, even to little ones who can’t seem to find their own shoes or put them on the right feet yet.
2. Provide LGBTQ-friendly media at your house. Children are exposed to many formative ideas on TV and their iPhones, but parents and other role models can have a positive influence on kids by providing entertainment with inclusive values. Consider buying an LGBTQ-positive picture book for younger children (two of our favorites are And Tango Makes Three and The Family Book) or an LGBTQ-positive novel for teens. You could also select LGBTQ-positive shows, many of which are designed to be teen-appropriate. To provide LGBTQ-positive educational resources, check out websites like equalityutah.org, HRC.org, or healthychildren.org for the latest, most accessible information. Some parents may even consider it beneficial to have a list of LGBTQ-positive resources stuck to the fridge for children or teens who are interested in learning more but might not be ready to talk about these topics yet.
3. Create a safe environment to ask questions and have discussions. Making an effort to teach inclusive values is good, but children learn better in spaces where they feel heard too. Kids have their own opinions, ideas, and, yes, their own feelings about sexuality and gender identity. And so, by showing them that we care about and respect them and their thoughts and feelings, we can model the ally behaviors and inclusive attitudes we are trying to teach them to have also.
Many of us were never fortunate enough to have “the talk” include things like sex-positive attitudes or gender fluidity. Today we know the importance of these topics and have so many good opportunities to do better at teaching kids to be inclusive. For some of us, a good start might include putting on something fabulous and taking our youngsters down to the local Pride parade. Or, if there isn’t one in your community, maybe now is a great time to support starting one.
Are you ready to be a better example of an LGBTQ ally for kids in your community? If so, we can suggest some additional great places to start: check out our resource guide, attend one of our signature events, or think about volunteering for Equality Utah!