This Sunday marks the 50th annual Gay Pride Parade in Chicago— Pride Month’s grand finale, celebrating the tremendous strides made in the LGBTQ movement for equality.
Whether you are participating in the parade, lining the streets in community, or watching from afar, we each play a very important role in keeping the movement alive and striding forward.
I recently watched a TED Talk by Lindsay Amer, creator of “Queer Kid Stuff,” an educational video series that breaks down complex ideas around gender and sexuality for kids, teens, and adults. The message is clear and powerful. Education around gender and sexuality is needed now more than ever and it starts with us.
Continued progress in equality and acceptance relies on helping our youth understand the realities of today. Gender is no longer binary; gender is about how we feel and how we express ourselves (Amer, 2019). And the same goes for sexuality. Today, sexuality goes beyond biological sex, and encompasses love and gender and family (Amer, 2019). The way we view, define, interact, accept, and love others is rapidly changing. Gender nonconforming kids, and trans kids, and kids with trans and nonbinary and queer parents are everywhere.
Thus, what it takes to raise loving, accepting, empathic, and self-confident young adults, has also evolved. Today, exposure to diversity and opportunities to interact with people who may look, act, and love differently than we do is the most important education we can give our youth, because its provides a foundation for acceptance, equality, and love right back.
In fact, research suggests that children have a solid understanding of their gender identity by the age of four. This means that exposure to gender and sexual diversity, especially at a young age, is important to a child’s social and emotional development. As a kid’s sense of self evolves and solidifies, it’s especially important to feel accepted, included, and a part of community—which stems from as many diverse experiences as possible.
Amer recommends starting early with children. Early conversations about gender and sexual diversity with children through song, play, dance, and music are key in developing more fluid and accepting ideas about gender and sexuality. Amer also encourages parents and children (as well as teens and adults) to think about gender in terms of pronouns, not only becoming familiar with their own, yet getting in the habit of asking others for theirs. Other educational suggestions, recommendations, and activities to promote gender inclusive identity can be found on the website too, so check out: Queer Kid Stuff!
So, here’s our call to action. As adults, teens, parents, and Parade Goers— we all play a role in supporting this movement. And it starts with education and conversation, joining in and talking about gender and sexual equality and acceptance— educating ourselves and others about the LGBTQ community, activism, pronouns, and body acceptance.
And it’s not limited to kids. We can also help our parents, grandparents, friends and family better understand and accept by calling them into the conversation and engaging them in new ideas, concepts, ways of thinking and acting. This weekend is a perfect opportunity to experience and support the LGBTQ community, together.
So beyond celebrating this weekend— let’s make it educational too. Find someone, talk about gender, talk about sexuality, and say it’s okay to be exactly who you are…
Acknowledge, together, that it’s in our differences that we are stronger, braver, and more resilient.
This weekend is a perfect opportunity to experience diversity, love, community, and acceptance.
This is our BRIGHT future— choose to embrace it with openness, awareness, and PRIDE.