As Early Childhood Educators, we know it is necessary to create welcoming environments that reflect and support the diversity among the families in our care. An integral part of anti-bias curriculum is to teach children to be proud of themselves and their families. Teaching pride in ourselves and others makes children more grounded, more tolerant and more understanding. And what better time to celebrate pride than June — a month dedicated to proudly celebrate the diversity among ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Here are four suggestions for how you can support and celebrate the LGBTQ families in your school this Pride Month:
1. Do Your Research
Before you jump into the celebrations, it's important that you understand the history of Pride. Children are curious investigators that navigate learning through questions. Be prepared to answer their questions about the history of pride month and why it is celebrated. Of course, tailor the conversation to fit the developmentally appropriate language of the children in your classroom.
2. Provide Families with Educational Resources
Partnering with parents is an essential part of early childhood education. It is important for parents and caregivers to know what is going on in the classroom; just like you would send home an article about social emotional development, include your families in discussions about how understanding and valuing differences at school is essential for creating healthy learning environments.
3. Representation is Key
Families are children’s first frame of reference for their world. Children need to know that their families matter both in and outside of their homes. According to NAEYC, “Reading children’s books that are inclusive of LGBT families is an essential strategy both for supporting the self-esteem of children from these families and for teaching all children about the diversity of families.” So, fill your bookshelves with stories that represent LGBTQ families and characters and include photos of diverse family structures in your classroom and hallways.
4. Language is Powerful
For young children, family is central to the curriculum; therefore, discussing same-sex household families should be integral to the conversation. Model using inclusive language for students, for other staff and educators and for parents and caregivers when talking about families and gender.
Encourage respect for all people, promote a positive environment, and talk about LGBTQ issues the same way you would approach any topic: with respect, openness and love. And most importantly, don't stop with June! Be a visible ally and build inclusive practices in your classroom all year long.
Human Rights Campaign. “Resources for Embracing Family Diversity | Welcoming Schools.” Human Rights Campaign, www.welcomingschools.org/resources/school-tips/diverse-families-what/.
Winner, Matthew. “How to Celebrate Pride Month in Your Library or Classroom.” Ideas & Inspiration from Demco, ideas.demco.com/blog/celebrate-pride-month-library-classroom/