June is widely celebrated as Pride Month to raise awareness and celebrate gender and sexual diversity. Pride Month largely originated from the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Inn is a bar located in New York City which has served as a safe haven for the LGBTQ2S+ community since 1930 when “acts of homosexuality” were illegal in the majority of states and countries. On June 27, 1969, six undercover police officers entered the bar and began to arrest employees. During the early hours of June 28, a riot broke out from outrage for how the LGBTQ2S+ communities were being targeted and treated. Many similar practices were taking place in Canada around this time, sparking an uprising to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community, and beginning Pride Month celebrations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced existing social, economic, and health inequities within LGBTQ2S+ communities. Canada has a disproportionately high rate of LGBTQ2S+ children involved in child welfare. There are many ways you can show a child identity acceptance:
- It is okay to ask questions and learn from youth about gender and sexual orientation, but additional education should be sought so youth do not have to be the only source of information. The IFCO 2020 series has webinars, including “Skill-building workshop for working with and supporting LGBTQ+ youth” and “Making a difference for LGBTQ2S+ children and young people in foster care” that provide information about terminology, pronouns, and how to have conversations with youth who identify as part of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
- A major sign of acceptance for LGBTQ2S+ individuals is using their correct pronouns and terminology. This action can also include readily identifying your own pronouns, and using the phrase “what are your pronouns?” when inquiring about pronouns, rather than “what are your preferred pronouns?”, which may imply their pronouns are not ‘correct’.
- Helpful resources to understand gender and sexual orientation may include:
- There are many community supports available for education, counselling, and resources for youth identifying as part of the LGBTQ2S+ community and their caregivers.
- There are many books, movies, podcasts, and resources to learn about and celebrate the LGBTQ2S+ community.
- Children begin to identify strongly with a gender at around age 3, including identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming. Young children can learn about identity equality through Sesame Street messaging and the Blue’s Clues Pride Parade Sing-Along Ft. Nina West.
As Pride Month comes to an end, it is important to reflect that learning about terminology, policy, and how to properly support LGBTQ2S+ youth is an ongoing and year round commitment. It is okay to make mistakes and it is okay to ask questions while working to be a safe person and providing a safe space for youth.