June is Pride Month, one month of the year when people around the world celebrate LGBT+ rights and inclusivity. This is usually celebrated with colourful parades marked with rainbow flags, banners of support and entertainment designed to bring communities marching together in unison for equality and justice.
What a great time to teach your children about these values too!
Children learn from an early age what it means to be inclusive of others. Remember that we were once tribal, and our brains are hard wired to develop positive interactions within our tribe. This means that we are social creatures from birth, looking to our parents and community to reassure, give us love and support and to model for us what is safe and what isn’t. From birth, we are constantly picking up subtle cues from our tribe of how to treat others. As children grow and develop, parents can actively teach about inclusivity through what we do and what we say.
This week’s blog is a guide for parents to help open the discussions about inclusivity, equality and diversity so that you can feel proud of raising children who are open and inclusive. To help you address these topics with your young people, no matter what age, we have compiled some top tips.
Examine Your Own Diversity Deficits
Remember that children are watching us all the time, and learning from what we do, so take a good look at yourself and ask yourself these questions:
- How often does your family interact with people who are different from you?
- Do you have friends who are of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation?
- Do you accept others easily?
- Do you make quick judgements based on otherness, often based on stereotypes?
- How can you challenge LGBT+ derogatory language?
If you want your children to be inclusive, then you need to be too!
Talk About What Makes up British Values
The fundamental British Values which are taught in school, really can come from the home first. Each one plays a huge part in why LGBT+ people can live safely and thrive in Britain and it is something to be proud of. The British Values according to Ofsted are:
- Democracy – due to the democracy that Britain has, people can vote for a better future. What the majority votes for becomes the deciding factor. The rights of LGBT+ people are not greater or smaller, but the same as everyone else’s. This wasn’t always so for LGBT+ people and that can be brought up by talking about Pride, the reason for Pride marches and such things as Section 28 which banned any teaching of LGBT+ identities in schools.
- Rule of Law – according to the rule of law, an act called the Equality Act was passed which gives equal opportunities to the protected identities, which includes LGBT+ people. Equality really can be taught at home by giving equal rights to everyone in the house, with a strong sense of fairness for all.
- Respect and Tolerance – LGBT+ people prefer to say ‘respect and acceptance’ as tolerance denotes that LGBT+ people are something to be tolerated as opposed to accepted. When we show acceptance in the home, we are modelling this value.
- Individual Liberty – Take your children to a Pride march in your community and talk about how people are free to be themselves.
Share Books on Topics of Inclusivity
Stories were once the way that history, knowledge and wisdom were passed down through the generations, recalling those tribal roots. You may recall our earlier blog about the benefits of bedtime reading, where we stated that reading together actually increases oxytocin and decreases cortisol in the body and brain. There are some excellent books for children of all ages to learn more about the LGBT+ community. Here are just a few:
- “My Shadow is Pink” by Scott Stuart or “Julian is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love are for younger readers which address gender and the fact that some people don’t feel like their assigned gender stereotypes. (Ages 3-8)
- “ABC Pride” is a non-fiction book for young children by Louise Stowell and Elly Barnes, which does a great job of introducing LGBT+ vocabulary, explaining terms in a way that young people can easily make sense of. “Who’s Your Real Mum?” by Bernadette Green and Anna Zobel addresses how all families are different, but really all the same when it comes to what is important. (Ages 3-8)
- For slightly older children there are books like, “The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.” by Jen Carey (ages 7-11), a diary written by a girl where adoption and same-sex parents are an everyday part of her life, or “Protest! How People Have Come Together to Change the World Throughout History” by Alice and Emily Haworth-Booth a non-fiction book about how people have come together to protest for better lives and equal rights. (Ages 9-12)
- “Heartstopper: Volume 1” by Alice Oseman, now a major Netflix Series, is a graphic novel about growing up gay in secondary school where peer pressure and uncertainty abound, a budding romance between two teen boys builds. (Ages 12-14)
- “Queer Up: An Uplifting Guide to LGBTQ+ Love, Life and Mental Health” by Alexis Caught for young adults is a positive, uplifting and powerful book with a strong message of having good mental health whilst navigating life as an LGBTQ+ person. (Non-Fiction, Young Adult)
However you choose to celebrate Pride this month, it’s important to remember that we can tell our children how to behave, but when we show them they learn much more efficiently.
To find out more about supporting young people with LGBT + inclusivity please check out these websites: