How to explain to kids the significance of LGBTQ+ Pride (and why “Straight Pride” isn’t a thing)

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It’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and amidst all of the community joy and reflection, some kids just might ask — or hear other kids (or adults) asking — that old question, “Why is there no ‘Straight Pride’?”

This devil’s-advocate type of debate might be painful or cringe-worthy for you, or you might simply have no idea how to answer. But first of all, try not to shame kids for bringing up this kind of question. Kids are still developing their sense of fairness, and it’s really unlikely they’re actively trying to hurt anyone. Think of it as an opportunity to learn and discuss more together as a family.

Here are some ways to explain the significance and history of LGBTQ+ Pride Month to kids. With this suggested script, families can gain some compassion, gratitude, and understanding that goes well beyond the “What about ‘Straight Pride’?” line of thinking.

Pride isn’t just a party

“Gay Pride might look like fun and rainbows, but it isn’t just a party! The reason Pride exists for trans and queer people is that they have had to fight for their right to exist.

Just a few decades ago, two men or two women seen together as a couple could be arrested. So could someone dressed in clothing that wasn’t seen as ‘matching’ their gender.

Gay, lesbian, and gender-nonconforming people would even get beaten up by the police or by random strangers who just didn’t like the way they were. They would often lose their jobs if anyone at work found out they loved someone of the same gender.”

LGBTQ+ activists led the way

“For a long time, it wasn’t safe to live your life openly in this country if you were gay, trans, or gender-nonconforming. That’s why some very brave gay and trans people started to fight for LGBTQ+ rights so they could have a chance at living freely.

One very important moment in this movement happened at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in June 1969. A big group of gay and trans people were socializing one night, when the police came to break it up.

People were used to being beaten and arrested for just being themselves, but this time they decided to fight back. This was called the Stonewall Riots or Stonewall Uprising.”

Pride marches and the ongoing movement

“After Stonewall, Pride marches began every June as a way of continuing the efforts of Stonewall and other protests against unfair treatment. The marches grew and grew every year, until they became a regular thing in many cities and towns!

Because of these many decades of hard work by activists, many rules have become more fair such as the recent right for gay couples to get married, or the right for gay people to serve openly in the military.

In many places, life has also become safer for gay and trans folks, such as being able to hold hands in public without getting attacked, or dress in the clothing that feels right to them.

But even today many queer and trans folks are still attacked or bullied just for being themselves, and can have trouble finding safe, accepting places to live, work, and get healthcare.”

Pride promotes bravery and progress

“It took a whole lot of bravery to march in those first Pride parades, and it still takes some LGBTQ+ people a lot of courage today to participate in Pride events, or to tell their families and friends that they want to.

When straight and cisgender people say they want a ‘Straight Pride Parade,’ it usually means they don’t really understand what LGBTQ+ people have gone through and don’t really appreciate what they have contributed.

Trans and queer activists and their allies have done so much hard work to turn this world into a more accepting place. The existence of Pride Month still helps many LGBTQ+ people feel safer in their communities, and helps inspire us all to make positive change. We can all be thankful for that!”

Reflection questions for kids and families

  • How would you respond to someone who says there should be a “Straight Pride Parade” or “Straight Pride Month”?
  • Do you think you would have had the courage to come out to your friends and classmates 50 years ago? What about 20 years ago?
  • Why do you think homophobia and transphobia still exist?
  • Why do you think fun, joy, and celebration became such a big part of the LGBTQ+ Pride movement? How do you think it helps the community?

Joanna Eng is a staff writer and digital content specialist at ParentsTogether. She lives with her wife and two kids in New York, where she loves to hike, try new foods, and check out way too many books from the library.