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Empowering the Next Generation: How to Teach Your Child to Be an LGBTQ+ Ally

Jessica Reyman

Jessica Reyman

Empowering the Next Generation: How to Teach Your Child to Be an LGBTQ+ Ally Empowering the Next Generation: How to Teach Your Child to Be an LGBTQ+ Ally

If you're a parent raising children in 2024, chances are that our families are pretty similar.

My spouse and I are raising our kids in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. Every day, my toddlers wake me up at the crack of dawn, ready to greet the day. We eat breakfast—sometimes healthy, sometimes not. I stress about whether they're eating enough vegetables; they lament about the color of their plate. Crumbs dot the floor, and i stare at yet another sink full of dishes before ushering them out the door to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Every day passes in a whirlwind of big feelings, lots of laughter, toys scattered across floors that need to be vacuumed, naps/refusing to nap, and big bedtime snuggles. Chances are, both of our homes are filled with light, love, and parents doing their very best.

In fact, one of the few differences between my family and yours might be that yours has just one mom and mine has two!

My wife and I married in 2019 in Philadelphia, and our twin daughters were born in 2021. From their birth, we were thrown into the same sleepless newborn haze that every new parent experiences, and though our family may look different than many others, so many of our experiences are the same as everyone else.

We're working our hardest every day to raise kind, loving kids! We're teaching our girls empathy and emotional regulation; we're working through the hard stuff as it comes and doing our best to eventually unleash wonderful humans into the world. We're balancing work, life, and family. We're doing the best we can with what we've got.

And though we're similar to other families in so many ways, I recognize the anxiety that can come with introducing your children to topics that feel complicated. Raising kind humans and raising allies for the LGBTQ+ community actually go hand-in-hand, but it's easy to get lost in a sea of "how-tos".

So let's uncomplicate the idea of inclusion!

Create a Safe Space for Learning

Children are naturally curious and may come to their parents with questions that are surprising. Creating a safe space for your eager learners is the first step to raising inclusive children. Answer your children's questions enthusiastically, with age-appropriate information, and don't be afraid if you don't know the answer.

Learning together alongside our children is one of the greatest gifts of parenthood! Gauge what your child already knows by asking open-ended questions, and allow their responses to steer the conversation.

Remember, talks about allyship and inclusion are going to look different at varying ages, so keep the conversations going as your children grow. Communicating openly about LGBTQ+ inclusion sends a strong message to your children that you are a safe place for all of their questions.


Fill Your Child's World with Diversity

Seek out shows, books, and media with diverse characters and rich stories. Filling your bookshelves with affirming children's books and watching shows where characters have LGBTQ+ families helps to normalize the lives of others. It shows that people's differences are meant to be celebrated!

As an LGBTQ+ parent, I particularly love when shows have LGBTQ+ representation, but it is not core to the storyline. It is simply a showcase of another way that families can be, sending a strong message that being "different" is no big deal. A few of our favorites include:

Bug Diaries (Amazon Prime): Main character Worm has two moms, one of which is voiced by the inimitable Wanda Sykes! This would be suitable for young children, age 3+.

Gecko's Garage (Netflix): Baby Truck's two mummies aren't a core plot point but come up frequently during the show. It is a good example of organically occurring diversity, and is suitable for toddlers.

Baymax (Disney+) has several very inclusive episodes featuring several depictions of LGBTQ+ characters and is worth a watch with your older elementary/middle school-aged kids!

Looking to add to your library? Be sure to check out these titles!

And That's Their Family by Kailee Coleman

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

Families Can by Dan Saks

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

When opportunities arise, don't be afraid to participate in family-friendly events geared towards members of the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters. This allows even your youngest budding allies to experience people of every shape, size, color, and orientation living their most authentic lives in a safe space. (Not to mention, it's a ton of fun!)

When appropriate, don't be afraid to introduce yourself to families that are different from yours. Is there an LGBTQ+ family at the playground? Say hello! Perhaps your little one will hit it off with theirs, marking the beginning of a bright new friendship.

Model Inclusion and Allyship in Your Everyday Life

We have all heard the old adage, "Actions speak louder than words." Because children learn so much through observation, modeling inclusivity and allyship for your children is truly the best way to empower them to follow in your footsteps. This part can take some learning (and sometimes unlearning), but the most memorable lesson your children will ever get will come in the form of watching you treat every human with the respect they deserve. Kids want so much to be like their parents, and they soak up every move we make, whether we realize it or not.

Not sure where to start on your learning journey? Jump online and begin to educate yourself about gender identity. Respect people's chosen pronouns, and correct yourself if you get them wrong. Learn about things in the world that affect LGBTQ+ people, and pay attention. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and never be too embarrassed to apologize if you goof—we're all humans, and everyone makes mistakes! Speak up if you see someone being mistreated, even if that someone is another member of your family. Offer kindness to every person you meet, no matter how different you perceive them to be.

Our kids are watching us, and the greatest lessons they ever learn are going to come from within our homes. With just a little education and a whole lot of kindness, we hold the power to raise the next generation of empowered, inclusive children!

Want to read more? Check out these informative links:

Talking To Kids About Gender and Sexual Orientation

Growing Up Queer: Thoughtful Movies and TV Shows About LGBTQ+ Youth

Coming Out: Information for Parents of LGBTQ+ Teens


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