This week we took our five-year old to the “Welcome to Kindergarten” orientation at our local public school. It was a big deal for all of us. Sending our littlest kiddo off to school is a milestone we’re all ready for, and it was fun to have an opportunity to get excited about the big change that’s coming up for our family this fall.
It was a straightforward 60 minutes. We met outside for introductions, then went to the kindergarten classroom for playtime. After that we toured the school, and then the kids played in the gym while the teacher shared logistical info with the grownups. At the end we left with a hand-decorated bag full of goodies and resources to take home.
The whole thing was a great way to quell any anxiety, both for me and my kid. But the thing I came away feeling best about was hearing the teacher mention her training in inclusive education and then share a short blurb about how diversity in the classroom is fundamentally great and important.
It made up a small portion of her overall presentation, but for someone like me who also believes diversity and inclusion to be fundamentally great and important, it was huge. But I also caught myself looking around the room wondering if her words were a red flag for anyone in the room.
It was a weird moment in my brain. In this community, where I still feel so new, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that overtly homophobic and anti-trans sentiments are very real here. Threats to a recent drag storytime at the local library led to the event being canceled. An anti-trans bigot ran for the local school board in the last election. Parents we’re acquainted with post homophobic content online.
Homophobic and anti-trans sentiments are alive and well in my neck of the woods, and seem to be blossoming in the culture at large. Though living in Canada can still sometimes give me a false sense of security when I hear about what’s going on south of us, there’s more than enough hate around here to go around. And like in so many other areas of civil society, the divides seem to just grow bigger and bigger.
With all that in mind, I’ve been giving some thought to how I bring my support of the LGBTQIA2S+ community into my day-to-day life, and into my parenting.
The following are things that I practice in my life and in my parenting as a cisgender woman in a heteronormative relationship. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but rather some ideas you can try with both the kids and adults in your life. I’d love to hear what resonates, and other things I might have missed.
Respect and use people’s chosen pronouns
When you make a mistake, apologize, remind yourself that you’re learning, and keep trying!
Instead of assuming someone’s pronouns, ask them. If it’s not possible to ask, use they/them instead.
Check out a family friendly drag performance or storytime
Participate in Pride events
Practice using gender neutral language to describe people (e.g., opt for words like person, parents, kids, children, sibling).
Let your school and school board know explicitly that you support LGBTQIA2S+ students, teachers, and inclusive policies
Support your kids and their friends to be and express their authentic selves
Love and support trans kids in your community
Choose diverse stories by diverse authors, including stories by and about queer, trans, and non-binary folks
Vote in school board elections (and all other elections for that matter)
Encourage fun, colourful fashion for all, regardless of gender
Learn about and normalize different family structures, including queer families
Share and normalize information about different ways families can have babies
Introduce and normalize the idea that 1-2% of people have intersex characteristics
Encourage older adults in your life (e.g., grandparents) to keep evolving and updating their language and thinking
Normalize the idea that trans women are women, trans men are men, and how a person feels inside is more important than the sex characteristics they display on the outside.
Share information on the history of same sex marriage
Share information about how people have been and continue to be discriminated against because of their gender or sexuality
Speak out against homophobia and anti-trans bigotry
Normalize sharing your own pronouns to help everyone else feel safe to share theirs
Respect and use people’s chosen names
Learn and explain terms related to gender and sexuality (and keep learning, because language evolves)
And check out our 24 practices for raising socially conscious kiddos workbook for more ideas and inspiration for bringing social and environmental justice values into your parenting journey.
24 practices to bring compassion, mindfulness, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your parenting journey.
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