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Are Your Children Homophobic?



First of all, the fact that you’re reading this demonstrates your commitment to inspiring LGBT+ acceptance and allyship in the lives of your children and students. *Virtual High-Five!*

Secondly, multiple studies have revealed that children are not born prejudiced: it is a learned behaviour. This is great news! It means that we can actively help to prevent our children and students from becoming homophobic, biphobic or transphobic. However, this result will largely be down to the actions that you (as a parent or as a teacher) take as well as how soon you implement them.

Hey, don’t panic! We've made things super easy for you by putting together a short LGBT+ inclusion checklist below. Have a look through and see where you might already be winning, as well as what else you can do to ensure that your children and students grow into accepting and supportive adults.


(Download & Print this Blog from our free resources area HERE)


1. Positive LGBT+ Stories


Pop'n'Olly's LGBT+ Children's Books

LGBT+ people are a welcome and significant part of our society but often the media around us doesn't always reflect this. How can a child possibly understand that LGBT+ people are welcome and significant if they never see LGBT+ people in the stories they love?


Children benefit from many depictions of loving straight couples in their entertainment but it’s equally important that they get to experience LGBT+ joy too.


Making sure LGBT+ people are positively represented in your children’s lives can easily be achieved with diverse and inclusive content. Here are a few ideas…

Picture books for primary-aged children that include LGBT+ characters.

Longer storybooks for older children that feature an LGBT+ protagonist or theme.

• Children’s media, TV programs and films that are inclusive of LGBT+ characters.


Be sure the books and media you share reflect LGBT+ people positively and demonstrate how being LGBT+ is simply just another way of being human.


2. Real-Life Representation


Stories, books and characters are a great place to start but how about introducing your children to real-life LGBT+ people? You could…

• Introduce LGBT+ celebrities or historical/notable figures. For example, tell your children/class about people like Alan Turing and Sally Ride, including the fact that they were LGBT+.


(In the members area at popnolly.com you can find over 50 colourful LGBT+ printable posters to download and display).



• Visit a pride event where your children can experience the diversity of the LGBT+ community. Many UK regions now host Pride events throughout the year and often include family events in their line-up. Research your local area for inclusive LGBT+ events. Visit www.pride-events.co.uk to find more information about the Prides in your area.


• Participate in celebrating specific LGBT+ awareness days, weeks and months like LGBT+ History Month or Diversity Week.


• As a school, consider inviting LGBT+ guests to talk about their lives as part of an assembly or workshop. (More information about Pop'n'Olly school visits & workshops can be found here).



3. Avoid Negative Gender Stereotypes


'Studies have found that homophobia is linked to anxieties about gender and conforming to gender stereotypes.'

Children develop the ability to recognise and label stereotypical gender groups between the ages of 18 and 24 months.

Children often pick up strong perceptions of what gender roles should be and can become affronted when someone breaks gender stereotypes. This can lead to ‘policing’ amongst children, including questioning, teasing, mocking and ostracising peers who don’t conform.



With these factors in mind, it’s clear we can all benefit from gender broadness - by this we mean not limiting anyone to behaviours and expectations defined by ‘traditional’ gender roles. For example, expecting all females to be caring and obedient, and all males to be courageous and emotionless.

Sometimes, we unconsciously reinforce negative gender stereotypes without us even being aware. We do this because our societies, for multiple reasons, have laid out unnecessary and limiting gender ‘rules’ or expectations.

Take a look at the list below and think about what you may have been ‘taught’ about each factor with regard to gender. How might you actively avoid passing on any negative or harmful patterns/ideas that reinforce negative gender stereotypes?

Colours

Toys

Language

Careers

Opportunities

Personalities

Appearance

Clothing

behaviour

Activities


When we indicate to children that anyone can be anything regardless of their gender, we give children more options as well as time, permission and encouragement to explore their own identity.


4. Learning and Discussion



Remember you’re not expected to know everything! If you are not sure what certain LGBT+ letters or words mean perhaps you and your children/class can learn together using a number of guides aimed at young people:

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Elise Gravel Pink, Blue and You - Questions for Kids about Gender Stereotyping

What Does LGBT+ Mean?

From Pride to Prejudice

Have Pride

Guides like these can be a great starting point for prompting discussion as they often come with questions and talking points. You could also try using Pop’n’Olly's short videos which cover a range of LGBT+ topics:

Identity

Gender

Sexual Orientation

Love

Privilege

History of Pride

Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about what LGBT+ means. Your children need to know that it is ok to ask about LGBT+ people/topics. It’s also really important to listen to them and address or explore any questions that may arise.



5. Language


'Seven in ten primary school teachers hear pupils use expressions like "that’s so gay" or "you’re so gay" in school.'


You don’t need to be on the direct receiving end of negative LGBT+ language to pick up on it and develop a sense of shame that who you are is always associated with something bad. The impact of indirect homophobic abuse can last many years.

Combat anti-LGBT+ language by making sure children understand what words like ‘Gay', ‘Lesbian’, ‘Bisexual’ and ‘Transgender’ actually mean and help them to understand that using these words in a negative way is hurtful to LGBT+ people.



6. Lead by Example


'Children are social detectives. They are searching for clues, scraps of evidence, about whom we adults like and don’t like, who is considered ‘good’ in [our] culture and who is shunned and considered ‘bad’'.

Children will get a sense of how they should respond to LGBT+ topics and people from you and from other grown-ups.

Make sure your children know you are an LGBT+ ally, that you openly support LGBT+ people and that you are willing to stand up for them if ever you see their human rights being compromised.

This doesn’t always need to be a huge action. Some simple ideas can be…

• Displaying a rainbow flag. (Download and print LGBT+ flags here).

• Wearing a rainbow badge, pin or lanyard.

Challenging homo, bi or transphobic language/comments.

Offering up your pronouns when meeting someone new.


If you are a teacher or an educator you might want to consider some form of LGBT+ teacher training as this can make a huge difference in helping to establish an LGBT+ inclusive and welcoming culture at your school. A number of UK charities and organisations offer really good in-person teacher training.


However, if you have a limited budget you may wish to consider Pop'n'Olly's digital teacher training which can be completed easily as an individual or as a group. Find out more at popnolly.com/teacher-training.



 

(Download & Print this Blog from our free resources area HERE)


If you found this blog useful make sure you are subscribed to our mailing list. We continually aim to provide teachers, parents and carers with the resources, tools and content to help combat LGBT+ prejudice before it can begin to form. Stay in touch here.


If you are a teacher we'd love to invite you to join our Teacher Facebook group - a safe space for teachers and educators to discuss all things LGBT+ education at primary level.


References:


Lock, J, & Kleis, B. Origins of homophobia in males.

American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol 52.


Stonewall. The Teachers Report.

www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/teachers_report_2014.pdf


Skinner, A. L., & Meltzo, A. N. How societal prejudices seep into the minds of our children. UNESCO IBE In Focus: Education & the Future.

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