Blog: Celebrating Pride - Tips for working with LGBTQ+ individuals and families

By John Beattie, Deputy Director (Families) at Campaign for Learning.

Around the world, Pride Month is recognised as a time dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. It takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots which began on 28 June 1969 – a protest against the poor treatment of the LGBTQ+ community that is often seen as the spark that ignited the gay rights movement.

Pride Month is the perfect time to celebrate equality, freedom of expression and different kinds of families. It’s important to remember that families come in all shapes and sizes. Recent data shows there are 212,000 same-sex families in the UK (ONS, 2019) – a 40% increase since 2015. Whilst this number is a good indicator, there are no statistics captured on LGBTQ+ families – only “same sex”.

Here, I share some tips and activity ideas from our recent workshop “Ideas Box: Celebrating Pride”, which may be helpful to you as a family practitioner. When planning activities, keep in mind that families attending LGBTQ+ events may be doing so for a number of reasons – the grown-ups may be LGBTQ+, their children might be, their extended family might be, or they could be allies attending for the joy of celebrating LGBTQ+ lives.


Tips for working with LGBTQ+ families

  1. Staff briefing and training. One of the most important parts of creating a safe, inclusive and comfortable space for everyone is to ensure your colleagues, staff and volunteers are all briefed and trained. Gendered Intelligence offer Trans Awareness training for all public facing organisations. Stonewall offer training opportunities for school staff and anyone working with children and young people. Curious Arts’ LGBTQIA+ Awareness Training sessions are a great place to start for team members working within arts/culture organisations or freelance roles. If budgets are tight, check out the London Museum’s free inclusion training on YouTube.

  2.  Prepare your setting. To make your activities truly inclusive for everyone it’s important to pay attention to the spaces you invite families to use. Part of this can be thinking about decorating with flags or Pride colours. But, the most important aspect is ensuring you have fully inclusive and accessible facilities of everyone. Margaret Middleton’s Gender Inclusive Signage article is full of advice and ideas for thinking about things like toilet facilities and venue-wide signage.

  3. Use inclusive language. Always be mindful and ensure that you’re using inclusive language which is non-gendered. Brief your colleagues, staff and volunteers to do the same. Examples and ideas could include

    - “Hello folks/everyone!” instead of boys, girls, guys, etc.
    - “Grown-ups” or “family” instead of mum, dad, grandma, etc.
    - “Partner" instead of husband, wife, etc.
    - “Siblings” instead of brother or sister
    - Offering your pronounswhen you introduce yourself
    - Using non-gender specific pronouns for others, such as asking “What’s their name?”
    - Mirroring (using the terms families use for themselves)

Meaningful activities and ideas 

Now that you’re set to work with LGBTQ+ families, what will you provide for them? Co-creation with families is a great way to ensure that you’re providing things that families really want. Working in partnership with organisations is another way to generate authentic and meaningful activities for families, and using Consortium UK’s LGBTQ+ Directory [] is a great way to find partners near you. Activity ideas could include: 

Get crafty. Encourage families to create their own rainbow trail by taking pictures of items they see out and about in the different colours of the rainbow – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be! Alternatively, check out these Heartstopper crafts on TikTok, honouring the graphic novels and new Netflix show which tells the story of two teenage boys who meet and fall in love.

Delve into history. The National Museum of Scotland’s Hidden Histories Trail [] was a collaboration between national museums and young people to highlight unexplored LGBTQIA+ stories across their collections through a self-led trail. You can visit in person, or listen to the audio content [] from the online trail.

Share stories. Using books is a great way to tell the stories of LGBTQ+ families and individuals, and there’s plenty of literature out there. Explore the Little People Big Dreams series, which includes the stories of queer people throughout history, such as Alan Turing, RuPaul and Megan Rapinoe. Or visit Gay’s the Word, the UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop with a wide selection of books for children and young adults.

Celebrate and support LGBTQ+ families year-round

One of the most important things you can do is show commitment by celebrating and supporting LGBTQ+ families all year round – not just during in Pride Month! If you’re not sure how to do this in your venue, there are many organisations and charities out there who provide resources, support, and the opportunity for you to volunteer or even donate, in support of their activities and work.

Resources for families and you  

I hope that the tips and activity ideas listed above are helpful to you as a family practitioner – not only during Pride Month, but year-round. For more ideas, you can download our free Celebrating Pride resource pack.

Further support resources that you may find helpful are: 

Mermaids: supporting transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families.
Stonewall’s Parental Rights support: providing information on parental responsibility, adopting, fostering, co-parenting, fertility treatment and surrogacy.
Switchboard LBGTQ+ Helpline: offering a confidential way for an individual to talk things through.

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