Every year, the month of June represents LGBTQ Pride month! As educators, we know how necessary it is to create inclusive and welcoming environments that reflect and support the diversity amongst the families and communities we serve.
In our childcare classrooms, LGBTQ Pride Month is the perfect time to discuss with children LGBTQ people and their struggles to achieve equity and justice. It is an opportunity to learn about important LGBTQ people in history, read books that include LGBTQ people, analyze heterosexism and explore its causes and solutions. It is important not to isolate the exploration of LGBTQ people and culture into only one month of the year but instead continue these practices in your everyday lesson planning.
Here are 5 suggestions to consider in your teaching practice when cultivating an inclusive and welcoming environment for your children and families.
1. Celebrate all year round
Although Pride is celebrated worldwide in June, discussing family dynamics, gender, and who people love can and should be talked about year-round.
2. Take inventory of your classroom
Take a look at the books you read and have available – the toys in the dramatics center, the photos you have on your walls, etc. Are these items diverse? Families come in all shapes and sizes and the materials and resources you provide to your children play an important role in the person they become. Every now and then take a look around your classroom and consider life from your children’s shoes – do the toys and resources look like them? Do they represent our diverse world population?
As a place to start, check out this list of children’s books to represent the LGBTQ community.
3. Provide educational resources to families
Working with parents is essential in early childhood education. Just like you would send home information on toilet training, sending home information and discussing the importance of Pride and the LGBTQ community is just as important. GLSEN provides a collection of Key Concepts and Terms “designed to provide a basic understanding of words, phrases, and ideas related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their experiences.”
Additional resources to consider:
- NAEYC’s Statement on Anti-Bias Education
- We are Family: Making Classrooms Inclusive for All Families
- Creating Inclusive Early Learning Environments for LGBTQ2+ Families
4. Consider your language
For young children, family is central to a classroom curriculum. Model using inclusive language for both children and parents when talking about families and gender. It is important for us to know the correct words to use with the children so that they know what to use for themselves.
I’m sure we’re all guilty of using the phrase “hey guys!” or assuming someone’s gender, for example, “go play with that little boy over there!” However, we should be mindful of this language as it can exclude certain gender groups. Instead of using “Hey guys!” Consider using “Hey friends!” or, “Hey everyone!” This is a more inclusive term when we’re not entirely sure of someone’s pronouns.
5. Check your own bias
We can do all of these things mentioned above and still have our own biases. It’s important as individuals that we check our blind spots. Are we really supporting the LGBTQ community by teaching young children about Pride when we have a bias of our own? To really support the community we must take inventory of our own practices and biases consistently. This involves doing our own research to make sure that we are educated on the background of Pride celebrations and what they represent.
As an educator, you take on the role of an advocate to advocate for children who cannot speak for themselves. We have to be brave and cannot be afraid. Remember the importance of your role in these children’s lives, the honor you have, and what that brings with it. Allow children to discover who they are in the safe space you create for them. As they learn they can speak up for themselves, that they are valued and matter, we will create a generation of human beings who are loving, kind, supported, and connected to each other.
We want to know in the comments below, how do you celebrate pride in your classroom?