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Harvey Milk Changed the Culture
Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders is a great book to introduce kids to LGBTQ history, legislation, and how one person can change a culture.
Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay politicians in America. The book says “He discovered that the best way to change laws was to help make laws.” He was elected and sworn in to the San Fransisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.
He worked with artist Gilbert Baker to create the rainbow flag, and debuted it during a Pride March in San Fransisco in June of 1978.
Harvey and the San Fransisco Mayor were both assassinated in 1978. But the book didn’t end there – author Rob Sanders (also the author of Stonewall) kept writing, sharing the way the flag changed through the years and the hope and joy that it is has sparked in millions of people across the world.
I welled up a bit at the last page, which showed how the White House was lit in the rainbow flag colors in June of 2015 after the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage was to be federally recognized. I was able to recount the story to my oldest of exactly where I was and how I was holding his tiny six-month-old self when I was notified that Love Won and several of my friends would have a government-recognized marriage. He was shocked that it was such a recent development, that laws were changed and people were granted rights during his lifetime.
Different Doesn’t Mean Bad
The entire point of Pride is that being different from the status quo is something to be embraced and celebrated, not hidden or shut away. We talked about how grown ups can love each other.
Introducing Children to LGBTQ Topics
Currently there is a big discussion in our culture about “indoctrinating our children with LGBTQ topics,” and I wholeheartedly disagree with that way of thinking. Members of the LGBTQ community exist. They have a right to exist. They have a right to inhabit spaces. They should be represented in the media because they exist and they are not “wrong” for existing. Studies like this one from The Trevor Project show that children who are accepted at home and have their differences respected are significantly less likely to attempt suicide. Truly, this is a pro-life issue. These conversations have nothing to do with sex because they don’t have to, it’s not about that. This is introducing our children to the idea that other people exist and belong.
My goal as a parent is to let my children know that they and their friends are safe to exist, no matter who they end up loving when they get older. Whether either of my children end up gay or straight, if I can teach them to respect themselves and respect other people for who they are, I have done my job.
Talking with my children about love, consent, boundaries, safety, and making a difference happens in my house on a regular basis. On an age-appropriate level, talking about love looks like “some families have one mommy and one daddy, some families have two mommies, some have two daddies, and some have other differences that make them just as unique, like how in our family Mommy and Daddy don’t live together anymore. Family love doesn’t have to look a certain way.”
For this book, our conversations focused mainly on this man, Harvey Milk, who just wanted to be allowed to live his life with the person he wanted to. And in his quest for this right to live in freedom the same way his straight friends were allowed to marry their girlfriends, he created a movement that brought people together. The boys recognize Pride flags anyway, because we go to Pride events in June and have since they were really little. They loved learning the history about the creator of the flag and how one man made a difference.
And as I stated above, my oldest was shocked that he was alive when the Supreme Court ruled that Love Won. I showed them a picture of President Barack Obama and then Vice President Joe Biden running down the White House walkways with Pride flags streaming behind them, and what the White House really looked like all lit up.
It’s written for elementary age, but both boys were able to understand the concept of families looking different and how some people are treated badly (and in Harvey’s case, are killed) because of what some people think about those families.
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden)
Hidden Figures: Brave Women in STEM Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margo Lee Shetterly is a great kids' version of the 2016 hit movie Hidden Figures. My kids really don't appreciate movies that aren't Marvel or comedy yet, so...
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Harriet Tubman)
The Many Roles Of Harriet Tubman Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome was a favorite book for my kids from the library because it's a Wonderbook, which has a "read to you" option. This book not only included the story, but background assistance telling the...
United States v Jackie Robinson by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Jackie Robinson)
Jackie Robinson Refused To Get Up For A White Man Eleven years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man on a bus, Jackie Robinson refused to give up his seat - and he was called before a court martial trial for it. United States v Jackie...