How to Explain Pride Month to Your Child

Pride Month is a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids about what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the history behind the month-long celebration, and to have some fun while you're at it.

Pride Month, honored throughout the month of June in the U.S., is a time reserved for commemorating the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement and uplifting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.

"Pride presents an opportunity for families to gather and show support for our loved ones," says Liz DeJesus, regional director council chair for PFLAG National and a mother of a gay son. "We know that by supporting them it helps individuals feel authorized and affirmed," she explains.

Here's everything you need to know about Pride Month and the Pride movement so you can include children in the celebration and educate them on LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

What Is Pride Month?

Pride Month is both a joyful celebration and a serious political reminder that LGBTQ+ people are here and deserve the same rights as everyone else. It's a great experience that people of all ages can and should check out. LGBTQ+ Pride isn't limited to just one day or one month, though. You can be proud to be LGBTQ+ or to support someone who is all year round.

Why Do We Call It Pride?

The word "Pride" was actually originally an acronym that stood for Personal Rights in Defense and Education, an organization started in 1966 to fight for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people in California. But of course, there's also the double meaning of Pride, which describes the feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction people get from their achievements or best qualities. Pride is also defined as the "consciousness of one's own dignity." In other words, we use the word Pride to both honor an influential organization and to be proud of who we are.

When Did Pride Month Start?

Many credit the Stonewall Riots, which began on June 28, 1969, with the start of the gay rights movement, which we think of as Pride today. On that night, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. Raids like this were common at the time—LGBTQ people weren't allowed to gather, to dress according to their gender identity or expression, to get married, and so many other things that the rest of society were allowed to do.

The police raid was nothing new, but it was the community's response to the raid that made that night different from the ones before it. The LGBTQ+ community and allies rioted. They fought back when the police became violent. Many people were arrested, but that night was seen as a turning point in the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

It was on the one-year anniversary of the start of the Stonewall riots that the very first Pride march took place. It was a more of a protest than a parade, with people marching in the streets. That march has continued in June for more than 50 years afterward.

How Has Pride Changed Over Time?

Pride started as a political march and, in many ways, it still is. But it has also grown and changed over time, along with the changes to the LGBTQ+ community and to visibility and the realization of some equal rights. With time, more people started celebrating Pride, and the march turned into more of a parade with floats, music, costumes, and parties. The political signs are still a big part of Pride, though, as the fight for full equality is ongoing.

Why Is Pride So Important?

"Pride creates a safe space for individuals, especially those who don't feel safe," DeJesus said. The pride celebration in Pittsburgh in 2005 was DeJesus' first exposure to the LGBTQ+ community and to her out son, who invited his family to join him as a means of introducing them to him and to his world.

DeJesus relayed the story of how she was running a PFLAG booth years later as a proud LGBTQ+ ally and put up a sign that read, "Get a hug from a PFLAG parent." She said she held back tears as a young LGBTQ person approached her and asked, "You mean, you will really hug me? My own parents won't."

"I think children learn from what they see and hear. When kids are open to the experience of Pride, they can shape their feelings and how they grow up, including their feelings about diversity and inclusion and it carries through their whole life," DeJesus said.

These are just a few of the many reasons why Pride is so important. It creates a space where LGBTQ+ people can be out, safe, welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated. They can feel connected and feel a sense of community and not feel alone. What's more, Pride creates visibility to the rest of the world about the size and power and beauty of the LGBTQ+ community.

What Does the LGBTQ Flag Mean?

The rainbow flag has long been a symbol for LGBTQ+ Pride, not only in June but throughout the year. It was designed by a man named Gilbert Baker in 1978 to fly in San Francisco's Gay Freedom Celebration. The original flag had eight colors and each symbolized something different—pink for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for the soul. The most recent rainbow flag also includes pink and blue for transgender people, and black and brown to represent Black and Latinx people.

How Can Families and Kids Celebrate Pride?

You don't have to be LGBTQ+ to participate in Pride Month—allies are welcome and everyone is allowed to celebrate in different ways. The important part is that we come together in the meaning of the celebration.

"LGBTQ+ Pride is important for kids, families, and allies because we must work together for equal rights not only under the law but culturally. Visibility is everything, and we are all in this fight together," said Ricardo Cooper, who helped coordinate a family movie night for New York City Pride in 2021.

Many cities host big parades with floats and lots of fanfare. You can join a group and march in the parade or you can watch from the sidelines. Some people may meet up with old friends and dance down the avenue, while someone else might join the company they work for with their family by wearing matching t-shirts and marching with their kids. People wave flags and hand out swag (knick-knacks like t-shirts, wrist bands, and stickers). There is often a festival at the end of the parade with tables from different businesses and organizations, and music plays a major role in Pride, i.e. most Pride events have live concerts and other entertainment.

Along with parades, there are also other activities that take place throughout Pride Month—both online and in-person. There are drag shows, panel discussions, and more! You may also opt to read your child a story with LGBTQ+ characters and/or show them an inclusive movie. Oh, and if you're feeling crafty, you can design rainbow-themed signs or artwork, ones which you can display in your windows or carry to your town's Pride event.

Not sure where to begin? Click here to find parades, festivals, and events in your area.

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