The Most Important Lesson to Teach Your Child

Last weekend was my little sister's college graduation. (Go Orange!) As the students processed in to commencement, robes billowing and tassels swinging, I couldn't help but notice the amazing diversity of this student body. It was a far cry from my graduating class.

I mentioned it to my sister afterwards, saying how cool it was that she just graduated a school that clearly values differences and how interesting it must have been to be able to learn from all of those differing perspectives. "Well, yeah it would be, except everyone keeps to their own group," she said, a drop of disappointment in her voice.

Putting kids of different backgrounds in the same place might be step one, but true to my sister's words it doesn't solve what I'm dubbing "the acceptance problem." Our society is still a very segregated one—not by law, but by practice. And this isn't just about race. We naturally separate by religion, by sexual orientation, by gender.

In the June issue of Parents, Michelle Crouch wrote about raising kids to respect people of all races and backgrounds. In a news cycle full of stories about police violence against blacks, hate crimes against gays in restaurants, and more, teaching our children acceptance for all people is the best path to a peaceful future. Not to mention, it just makes for a more interesting life.

So now it's time to walk the walk.

June is LGBT Pride month. You might see signature rainbow emblems popping up in your neighborhood as a sign of celebration and, well, pride. For LGBT families, it's a time to celebrate their identities. Equally, if not more importantly, it's an opportunity for communities and non-LGBT families to reach out and show their public support.

While I have always supported the LGBT community in my heart, it's important to show up. I love to attend the annual Pride Parade in New York City. It's practically an official holiday here. It's a chance to for me to say, "We may be different, but I love you for those differences. I value you. I want to learn from you."

There are Pride events all over the country throughout the month of June, with special events for families. (After all, a massive parade in the heart of Greenwich village might not be stroller-friendly.) In fact, Playbill has partnered with Disney Theatrical Productions and Family Equality Council to present Family Day OUT. Families will get to meet the casts of Disney's Broadway productions in a private celebration before attending the show of their choice.

So take a look at the calendar, or find more localized events in your area. Embrace this opportunity to cultivate compassion in your child. Our world increases in diversity each day, so in our quest to better our world we must first care for the people in it.

Photograph: Shutterstock

Ruthie Fierberg is an editorial assistant at Parents. Though she does not have children of her own, she's practically been raising kids since her first babysitting job at age 11. She is also our resident theater aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @RuthiesATrain.

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