Happy Pride Month!
Love is love.
By: Emily Shaw
For everyone in the LGBT+ community, pride
month is a time for celebrating ourselves. It’s a time to fully accept, love,
and embrace everything we are. For allies of the community, it’s important to
do the work to educate yourself on how to be an informed ally. It’s important
to use your privilege to advocate for those who are often silenced for who they
are. The best way to do this is to talk to members of the community. Listen to
their stories, their opinions and what they want to see allies do better.
KidsAbility spoke with Maddy Workman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, on her journey to coming out, accepting herself, and her hopes for the future of the community.
Maddy first came out to her social worker at KidsAbility. Shortly after, Maddy came out to her mom and was completely supported. Since she’s come out, she’s learned to accept herself more. She says at first it was hard to completely understand herself and wondered who she really was. As time went on and she came out to more people, she’s learned to accept herself for who she is.
Coming out isn’t always easy. It’s hard to know who will be supportive, and where to turn to if loved ones cut off communication. But that’s not even the beginning. It starts with accepting ourselves, before anyone else knows we’re questioning who we are.
For Maddy, it took her a while to fully accept who she is and then came wondering who she was going to tell and how she was going to tell them.
It can be a nerve-wracking journey. For some, questioning one's sexuality starts as early as elementary school. For others, it’s not something they think about until after retirement.
Now, after Maddy has come to embrace who she is, she hopes everyone who is questioning their identity can someday feel the same peace. She wishes coming out was easier, that people wouldn’t be judged for who they are. She hopes that someday being in the community will be seen as normal, just like preferring apples over oranges.
In order for Maddy’s wishes to become reality, it’s important to do the work ourselves to become educated about the LGBTQ+ community. One of the best ways to achieve this is to keep the conversation open with children about LGBTQ+ individuals. One way to encourage conversation is to read books to your children where the main character isn’t like everyone else in the book.
8 Books Celebrating LGBTQ+ You Can Find in KidsAbility's Resource Centres:
- A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary and Qin Leng
- I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
- Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman and Eda Kaban
- Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Robb Sanders and Steven Salerno
- Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
- Ho’onani Hula Warrior by Heather Gale and Mika Song
- Julien is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
- George by Alex Gino
“We welcome and support all individuals, and aim to celebrate inclusion and diversity including those with a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders and sexual orientations,” says Chuck Myke, KidsAbility Social Worker. “Although our primary focus is on concerns related to the personal and family impact of having a child or youth with a disability, we often encounter children and youth who are challenged to develop a sense of self, an identity, an understanding of who they are as individuals and how they fit into the world around them."
KidsAbility’s social workers work with each child and youth to support them and the many questions and emotions that might arise during the process of discovering and becoming.
“We support our youth to utilize the expertise of other supports that are available in the community including peer support groups and community counselling agencies such as KW Counselling. KidsAbility Social Workers welcome open conversations about issues related sexual and gender identity. We are here to provide a safe place to acknowledge and support individual differences and together. Happy Pride Month!” says Myke.
By keeping the conversation open and informative with children, and teaching them that everyone is unique and deserves kindness, one day being a member of the LGBTQ+ community will be exactly like preferring apples over oranges.
The best way to teach children about how to accept one another, despite their differences, is to accept children for their differences. Small changes like letting children express themselves through the clothing and jewelry they want to wear, letting them join the extracurricular activities they’re passionate about, and buying them the toys they prefer to play with can make a huge difference in the long run.
Making our homes and community a safe space where children feel free to be their true selves will pave the way for a loving, supportive, and accepting world.
No matter our differences, we all deserve love.
Emily Shaw is a volunteer and past co-op student at KidsAbility. Working with organizations that she's passionate about has always been important to her.