How young families can honor and celebrate Pride Month

Spending time getting educated about the LGBTQ+ community and the significance of Pride Month is an important commitment year-round, but June is an especially great opportunity for families to get the conversation started and engage in the celebration and reflection happening locally and nationally.

Faith Knocke (they/them/theirs), who has a master's degree in education and is communications publication and strategy coordinator, Community Programs & Initiatives at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and Dawn Ravine (she/her/hers), who has a master's degree in public health and is program coordinator, Sexuality Health Education from The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's, share helpful suggestions for how young families can participate in Pride Month and practice allyship in their communities.

Talking about Pride is a simple yet important part of supporting LGBTQ+ rights and the community's fight for equality. While LGBTQ+ education has been better prioritized in Illinois in recent years - with things such as Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing a bill requiring Illinois schools to teach LGBTQ+ history; and the Keeping Youth Safe and Healthy Act passing in 2021, which ensures comprehensive personal health and safety and sexual health education in Illinois, affirming identities including LGBTQ+ identities - not all states are creating this space for learning.

Taking a moment within the family unit to explain to kids that Pride is a celebration of LGBTQ+ identities sets a good foundation for the "why," and Knocke says that simple explanations often satisfy most young children. They suggest leading with something like "When two boys love each other…" or "when two girls love each other…"

By preschool, kids are typically able to understand basic concepts of gender identities and family structures if modeled in straightforward, age-appropriate language. "It can be as simple as asking, 'Did you know some families have two mommies? Or two daddies?," Knocke says.

Sharing historical context with kids who can appreciate it is also essential to authentically recognizing Pride. Knocke suggests providing them details about the Stonewall Uprising and how it was the beginning of a much larger movement.

"For younger children, I suggest thinking about how to frame the conversation in a way that promotes LGBTQ+ celebration and resilience," said Knocke.

In addition to education, there are plenty of activities to enjoy as a family during Pride Month. Pride Parades - also known as Pride Marches, Pride Events and Pride Festivals - happen across the country in big cities and small neighborhoods alike.

"Pride Parades are events where people support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary and queer (LGBTQ) acceptance, achievements, legal rights and Pride," Ravine says. "These events can also be a great opportunity for families to get creative by making homemade signs and posters to hold with pride at their local parade."

For families that don't feel comfortable in large crowds quite yet, Ravine suggests hosting a small at-home celebration. "Support or host your own neighborhood Pride event - something local and meaningful celebrating the LGBTQ+ people and organizations in your community that make it special! Grab the rainbow gear, some Pride-themed snacks and a great playlist, and celebrate at home with family and friends or other folks in your neighborhood," she says. "Is there a particular family member or loved one you want to honor and support during your celebration? Have the kids make them a card or a picture."

"There's also an LGBTQ+ film/show out there for everyone - from animation and campy comedies to deep documentaries," says Knocke. "Most streaming services offer an LGBTQ category and there's also several lists online to help find good recommendations."

The rainbow flag that serves as a symbol for LGBTQ+ community pride and acceptance is another great learning opportunity for kids. Ravine recommends talking about the history of its origin and the meaning behind each color represented. In 1977, Harvey Milk (civil and human rights leader who became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States) challenged Gilbert Baker (artist, designer and activist) to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community. The Pride Flag, inspired by Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow," flew at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade celebration on June 25, 1978.

• Red is for life

• Orange is for healing

• Yellow is for sunlight

• Green is for nature

• Blue is for harmony/serenity

• Purple is for spirit

• Brown and Black are for diversity and inclusion

The flag may even inspire kids to create their own rainbow-filled art that is easy and fun to do at home with construction paper, colored markers, paint or whatever families have on hand. It's an easy way to put the Pride colors on display and show support as a family.

"It's also important families are conscious of who they financially support. During Pride month, we often witness 'rainbow capitalism,' which is when companies profit off Pride month without actually supporting the LGBTQ+ community," says Knocke. "Some of these companies even donate funds to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations while trying to position themselves as supportive by merely adding rainbow colors to their products or websites. Instead, families should consider proactively purchasing items from LGBTQ+ and locally owned businesses or donating directly to LGBTQ+ organizations and people."

Once families have decided how to celebrate Pride throughout the month of June, there is always an opportunity to keep the conversation and education going year-round. With help from inspiring page turners like "An ABC of Equality" and "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls," messages of inclusion, stories of empowerment and equality can be enjoyed all year long. Lurie Children's also offers real-life examples of adults and youth having quick, meaningful conversations around topics such as gender identity, sexual orientation and much more with its Never Fear Talks.

For more information on how Lurie Children's supports the LGBTQ+ community, visit For more information on key terms and resources that support gender inclusivity, visit

• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. For more information, visit

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