June is Pride Month, bringing discussions on diversity to the forefront. As with education, Pride Month this year will be happening in new virtual experiences, celebrations and lessons. Some parents may be wondering how they can talk to their children about diversity and social justice issues but sometimes it’s easy to forget that our children can also be the ones providing us with valuable lessons on diversity.
Embrace your natural curiosity
Children are inquisitive, creative and full of curiosity. When we continue to learn and ask questions, we broaden our own horizons and understanding of cultural differences, diversity, and inclusion. Remembering to incorporate that same openness in our own lives helps create more meaningful conversations with those around us, including with those in the LGBTQ+ community. This can create more avenues for discussion and acceptance.
Lead by example
Being a parent means being a role model. Children are observant and, intentionally or not, will mimic the behaviours they see in their parents. Instilling the morals that we want them to carry through life means modeling those behaviours ourselves. Do we stand up for what we believe in? Do we voice our opinion when we know something’s wrong? Are we asking questions or apologizing when we’ve made a mistake or an assumption?
Learn even when we don’t feel like it
It’s no secret that children are not always excited about school, and any excuse to get out of homework is often welcomed. Despite this, we see our children put in the effort to complete their work and push themselves to do better, whether it’s in sports, extracurriculars or in their studies. This should ring true for parents too, accepting that learning can be challenging, and understanding that diversity, intersectionality and equality is a lifelong journey. There are plenty of resources available through organizations like GLAAD or Pflag Canada, and even helpful guides to allyship online.
Prejudice is learned, but can also be unlearned
Studies have shown how our biases and prejudices are a part of our socialization, which can be seen with these two best friends who insist they’re identical. Children make friends easily, with studies suggesting they are quick to accept differences. This may not always be the case in adults. What are the unconscious biases that we’ve adopted that we can work towards changing? It’s not always easy, but it’s important to recognize the prejudices we hold, and work towards being just as accepting as young children can be.
Education continues beyond the classroom and can always be found in unexpected places. Now, more than ever, there are countless resources at our fingertips but with so many resources available, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we say to be more like your children: start by asking someone you know and trust to help guide you. Taking time to view the world from a different perspective, including the perspective of young children, can help us better understand acceptance, tolerance and the importance of diversity.