June is Pride Month. Gay pride parades are taking place in almost every town and rainbow banners can be seen everywhere! What better time to challenge ourselves as parents to ensure we help foster positive attitude in our children.
We want to raise children who are not only accepting of all sexual orientations, but who are openhearted to all humankind, regardless of race, religion, physical and mental abilities, age, gender and so forth.
So how does a parent teach such concepts?
How is your open-mindedness? Are you able to embrace all people? It is easy to love and accept those we are like, but what of those we don’t understand or have nothing in common? THAT is where our own work begins.
2. Walk the talk
Take a minute to examine yourself. You may proclaim you are accepting, but do you walk the talk? Do your mouth and feet tell the same story? If you claim you are not sexist, but then you crack a sexist joke, believe me, your children learn more from what you do.
The best way for children to understand human differences is to develop relationships with people from all walks of life. Children may be taken aback when they first meet someone who has Down syndrome, is in a wheelchair or wears a hijab, but once they spend time to develop a friendship, they realize they have more in common than they do in differences. Help increase exposure to a variety of people through your children’s activities, sports, clubs, travels, movies and books.
4. Social action
Walk in a gay pride parade, add a rainbow to your profile picture, raise money for women’s issues and so on. The more outspoken you are about your own personal values of the respect and dignity of ALL people, the more your children are likely to adopt your values, too.
5. Inspire, don’t preach
Yes, you should live your values big, but if you get too preachy and start cramming your ideology down your children’s throats, the more likely they are to reject your values. Instead, be inspirational. Kids will be like bees to honey if you keep it positive and engaging.
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The Toronto Pride Parade will take over parts of Yonge Street on Sunday, July 3, from Church and Bloor streets to Dundas Square. The parade starts at 2 p.m. and takes about three hours to run its course.
This year, trans activist Aydian Dowling, philanthropist Salah Bachir and singer-songwriter Vivek Shraya are the Grand Marshals of this year's Pride Parade. (Photo shows last year's Grand Marshals). The Parade will also feature honoured group Black Lives Matter and the international honoured guests The Prancing Elites and youth ambassador Jordyn Samuels.
According to Victoria Schwarzl, of Pride Toronto, this is the first year where all three levels of Canadian government are marching in the Toronto Pride Parade. "Keep your eyes out for Mayor John Tory, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau." she tells the Huffington Post Canada.
Shirley Kendall, an elder with the Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee nations, will perform a smudging ceremony — an Indigenous custom that is used to purify a space — at Church and Bloor streets to open the parade, which takes place on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
The Pride Parade will go on no matter rain or shine, so come prepared for both. Pack an umbrella or an easily foldable rain coat just in case the weather calls for rain. If it calls for lots of sun, slap on the SPF and wear a hat!
Are you a person with a disability? No problem, Pride is very accessible. Schwarzl says risers are located throughout the parade route in order to provide easy viewing for guests with accessibility needs. Risers are located on Isabella Street, St. Mary's Street, Maitland Street, Breadalbane Street, and Elm Street. There is also a section specifically for blind and low-vision spectators on Wood Street (which will have live description of the parade) and an area specifically for people with mobility devices at Edward Street.
Traffic is sure to be gnarled the day of the parade, so leave the car at home and take an alternate mode of travel, which will leave you a lot less frustrated. Hop on the TTC, grab your bike or just walk!
Don't want to miss out on any of the action? Volunteer and you'll have the best view in the house! Pride depends on more than 1,500 volunteers to make the festival happen. There's still time to sign up so click here to find out more.
When the Parade's over, head over to Yonge Dundas Square to watch Joe Jonas and DNCE, Well-Strung, Alex Newell and more.
"Know that it's more than just a parade," Schwarzl says. " The Pride Parade represents decades of struggle and oppression for people within our community. It is a celebration of love and life that both commemorates the strides our society has taken and also reflects the long way we have to go in achieving equality."