Pride: Loving Language for the LGBTQ+ Community


Happy Pride Month

Happy June! And Happy Pride! Do you notice tons of rainbows everywhere? Have you thought about taking your kids to a Pride event? Do you know why Pride matters and why we celebrate in June? Yes, Pride is fun and colorful and expressive. And there is a reason we celebrate. My marriage was illegal just a few years ago, for example. Trans people are killed for being who they are. Homophobia and transphobia are alive and well. Even folks in our progressive DC community have blind spots (we all do).

Understanding Pride

Over the next few weeks, I will share some ideas and resources to not only deepen your understanding of Pride, but also support you in sharing about this part of our community with your children and families. Some of what you read and explore may feel uncomfortable. It’s a wonderful thing to notice that! When those feelings come up, sit with them a bit. Learn more. Talk to someone who knows something about the topic. Then, come back into the work and keep going. You get to choose what you do with all of this. What would a learner do? Or an ally? What would an advocate do? When we model stepping out of our comfort zone with our children, we support their growth and development also.

Pride Month TerminologyWhat does LGBTQ+ stand for and why are there so many letters?

Let’s start, or deepen, our work as adults with some small steps. Language matters. Do you know the terms of LGBTQ+?

“Lesbian”-two female lovers

“Gay”-two male lovers

“Bisexual”-a person who chooses both male and female lovers

“Transgender”-a person who does not identify with the gender assigned at birth. Some Transgender folks have surgery to correct this disparity, and some do not.

“Queer”-An umbrella term many folks use to define folks outside of the “mainstream”. The plus sign means this community continues to include others.

“I”-Used to signify Intersex, or people born with both sexes

“A”-This is used to signify Allies or Asexual (people who do not identify as sexual beings).

LGBTQIA Pride Month TerminologyEducating our kids on LGBTQ+ language

There may be other terms you hear that you aren’t familiar with. If you’re not sure, or want to confirm, check this out or this for a kid-friendly version. It’s not always necessary to identify sexual preferences in public spaces or with our children. Letting our kids know that love is love, no matter who people love is the most important thing. Terms for gender identification and expression are often lumped with sexual identification and expression. They are not one and the same though. Gender and sexuality are different. Expression and identity are also different.

He? She? They? Xe? Ze?

Pronouns matter. Many folks (throughout history) identify as non-binary (or gender queer). This means they don’t identify as solely male or solely female. Be mindful of how you refer to everyone, even if you are pretty sure you know their gender-preferred pronouns. It’s helpful to ask and not assume. This could sound something like, “My name is Lori and my preferred pronouns are she/her. What about you?” You could even try using “they” to refer to folks if you aren’t certain of their preference. If it feels awkward at first (it did for me too), but you’ll get better the more you practice. Stepping into that uncomfortable place helps builds a community of respect and awareness–a place where more people can feel safe.

Pride Month TerminologyPronouns matter

We live in a straight and cis-gendered privileged society. We assume people are straight (heterosexual) and cis-gendered (identify with the gender assigned at birth). We ask folks who are not to identify their pronouns, so this is why it matters to identify yours (especially if you are straight and cis-gendered).

The beautiful thing is that we all get to learn to embrace our full selves. Even if we aren’t taught that or if our society doesn’t always support that. How will you work in your family and community to embrace yourself and each other more fully?

Teaching our kids about language of the LGBTQ+ community and Pride

A good way to start is by looking at your own community – family, friends, neighbors. Teaching our children that we are all different, all special, and we all want to be loved and respected is a good start. Do you know a family with two moms? Your kids may not necessarily notice that their friend has a different family structure. It’s ok to point it out. We are different. It’s good to talk about that.

Reading books is another helpful way to bring up the conversation. Ask your children to share what they notice and wonder as you read one of the many great books that feature all sorts of kids and families. You can then ask further questions like, “How are you like the characters? How are you different?”

Broaching a new subject with your kids, or one that you are learning more about also, can be challenging. Just like with your own learning, if you are not sure how to address your child’s question or statements, just take a breath, take a moment to sit with it, and then be honest. Saying we don’t know and then learning more together is a beautiful way to grow together.

Resources for learning and doing more: (Blue’s Clues goes marching in the Pride Parade!) (why Pride is in June)

Pride Month Terminology

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Lori Wilen
Lori Wilen is Mama to two school-aged littles. Lori, her wife, kids, and rescue dog live in Brightwood, DC. She has lived in the area since 1991 but grew up in Pittsburgh. Lori received her undergraduate degree from University of Maryland and her Masters in School Leadership from Harvard. She is an educator by training and passion and consults on various education projects. Lori is equally excited about yoga and meditation, practices she began 25 years ago. She is a certified yoga teacher for kids and adults. Lori loves learning and continues to dive into yoga's rich history, the intersection of yoga and social justice, and how bodies function. She began Mindful Yogic Parenting as a way to not only help herself, but to also connect with other parents who want to more mindfully engage with their kids, using yoga's philosophy and practices as support.