Take Pride in Your Pride Month Celebrations
Pride Month is celebrated every June (not to be confused with LGBT History Month, which occurs in October). Some organizations celebrate Pride Month, while others let it pass without a peep–often out of fear of making a disrespectful misstep. There are many ways you can thoughtfully celebrate Pride Month inclusively and respectfully.
WHAT IS PRIDE MONTH?
Every June, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Pride Month (often shortened to Pride Month) commemorates the years of struggling for equal rights and opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community. It raises awareness to celebrate, uplift, and support LGBTQ+ voices.
In June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City. This kicked off a series of riots spread across six days that turned into thousands of protestors gathering at Stonewall and the surrounding area. These riots are considered a turning point for LGBTQ+ rights and fundamentally changed the nature of activism across the United States. A year after the Stonewall riots, the first Pride march took place. For over 20 years, presidents and governors have issued proclamations declaring June as Pride Month.
Learning about appropriate terminology and understanding the evolution of terms is the first step in creating public awareness and acceptance. However, the language used to describe the gender and sexuality spectrum evolves, and you may find changes to the acronym depending on the organization defining the term. Increasingly common is the acronym LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and more).
TEN THOUGHTFUL WAYS TO CELEBRATE PRIDE IN JUNE AND BEYOND
Pride Month is a time for celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and promoting equality and acceptance. Organizations and schools can play an important role in honoring Pride Month by creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
1. Encourage the use of inclusive language: Make sure that people within your organization use inclusive language and make an effort to be respectful and supportive of all members of your school community, workplace, or those you serve.
2. Offer educational resources and programming: Help your community learn about LGBTQ+ issues and history and the ongoing struggle for equity, justice, and inclusion. Provide training on how to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.
3. Offer resource or affinity groups: Provide space and resources for interested staff or students to form groups and clubs centered around the LGBTQ+ experience.
4. Permit the use of the rainbow and other flags/symbols: The rainbow flag symbolizes LGBTQ+ pride and can be displayed to show support and denote being a “safe space.” Other flag colors and designs denote support for diversity within the LGBTQ+ community.
5. Encourage the use of pronouns in email signatures: Hold space for conversations about gender and be clear on your chosen pronouns upfront.
6. Offer mental health and well-being resources: Organizations and schools can provide resources and support for mental health and well-being and offer an open-door policy that guarantees anyone struggling will find trusted support.
7. Host events and activities: Organizations and schools can host events and activities that celebrate Pride Month, such as movie nights, guest speakers, and panel discussions. These events can be educational and promote understanding and acceptance of the breadth and depth of the LGBTQ+ community.
8. Include LGBTQ+ representation in your marketing: Being an inclusive environment means showing that representation in your marketing materials and campaigns.
9. Develop inclusive policies: Ensure that your policies are inclusive and promote an environment free from discrimination and bias. This may look like removing gendered language from dress code policies or reviewing health benefits to ensure your same-sex and transgender employees receive the same benefits as everyone else. For example, paternity leave and maternity leave, or health benefits that do not include gender-specific rules (such as fertility treatments for same-sex couples).
10. Partner with local LGBTQ+ organizations: Consider partnering with local organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community to bring in speakers, offer resources, and provide support.
While this is not a comprehensive list, these ideas can create more inclusive and supportive environments and authentically honor Pride Month throughout the year.
DEVELOPING INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE
Developing inclusive language and removing outdated gender designations is an easy way to be inclusive and respectful during Pride Month and beyond. Here are a few tips for making your language more inclusive:
1. Use gender-neutral terms: Avoid using terms that assume someone’s gender, such as “ladies and gentlemen,” and instead use gender-neutral terms such as “everyone,” “friends,” or “team.”
2. Avoid using derogatory or offensive language: Make sure to avoid using language that is derogatory or offensive to the LGBTQ+ community, such as “homosexual,” “transgendered,” or “gay lifestyle.”
3. Use inclusive language when discussing gender and sexual orientation: Instead of using terms such as “husband/wife” or “boyfriend/girlfriend,” use terms such as “partner” or “spouse.” Also, avoid using “heterosexual” as the default term and instead use terms such as “queer,” “LGBTQ+,” or “same-sex attracted.”
4. Be mindful of the pronouns you use: Be respectful of people’s pronouns and ask them what pronouns they use if you are unsure. Avoid assuming someone’s pronouns based on their appearance. Did you know “they” is accepted as a singular pronoun by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and in APA style? Replace he/she when gender is unknown, or irrelevant.
Even small steps are valuable in creating inclusive, safe environments. Speaking up and showing your support for a marginalized group can speak volumes. Importantly, allyship doesn’t need to be complicated; it only needs to be genuine.
Each Pride Month, many organizations market rainbow-themed items and showcase disingenuous allyship to LGBTQ+ people. But when Pride Month ends, many of these marketing tactics vanish as quickly as they appeared. Performative allyship is when a person or organization professes to support a marginalized group to gain favor (and, in many cases, sales and profits) but does not support the cause in any meaningful way apart from celebrating Pride Month in the public eye. In an organization, this may look like celebrating diversity on social media without having any equity initiatives or policies, failing to address complaints and discrimination claims, and homogenous hiring practices.
The Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index lists organizations making meaningful and impactful strides to developing diverse and equitable communities. If your organization is ready to take more significant steps in your commitment to diversity and inclusion, you can find valuable models from these forward-thinking organizations.
CULTIVATING A CULTURE OF INCLUSIVITY
Creating inclusive, welcoming spaces that ensure high social support for all is grounded in respect and human dignity.
The HRC Foundation found that:
- 46% of LGBTQ+ workers say they are closeted at work
- 1-in-5 LGBTQ+ workers report having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner;
- 53% of LGBTQ+ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while;
- 31% of LGBTQ+ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed at work;
- and the top reason LGBTQ+ workers don’t report negative comments they hear about LGBTQ+ people to a supervisor or human resources? They don’t think anything would be done about it — and they don’t want to hurt their relationships with coworkers.
The Trevor Project shares that:
- 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
- 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.
- LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not.
- LGBTQ youth who found their school to be LGBTQ-affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide.
- Fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
“LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity but rather placed at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society.”
-The Trevor Project
Published on: March 1, 2023