Tips for Talking to Children About Marriage Equality
June 28, 2013 by Rohmteen Mokhtari, Coordinator, Family Project
With all the media attention on the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality rulings, some parents and teachers may initially feel a little anxious about discussing the topic with their children or students.
Sometimes talking to children about LGBT issues seem difficult, in part, because as adults we haven’t had a chance to consider what we want to say and how to respond to questions. Often when discussing a new topic, we rely on past experiences to help us out. However, many of us don’t have much experience talking about LGBT topics. Therefore, our past experience doesn’t help us out.
Fortunately, with just a little forethought and preparation this can be a great teachable moment. Here are some tips for parents and educators from the HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools program.
- Focus on love and relationships. For example, you can say that people love each other in different ways. Some women love and want to be partners with a man and some women love and want to be partners with a woman. You can also talk about marriage in the context of the many different types of families children can have.
- Keep it simple. You don’t have to overload your child with information.
- Don’t dodge questions. Direct answers honor a child’s honesty and curiosity while avoiding the topic can unintentionally send the message that gay and lesbian families are bad and not to be discussed. Practicing Responses to Students’ Questions
- Be honest. Remember that it’s okay to say you don’t know the answer to a question.
- Emphasize the importance of respecting all families and points of view.
- Use children’s books. Below are three great books that can help start a conversation about marriage and love. For more ideas, check out our book recommendations about All Kinds of Families and Childrens Books with LGBT Characters.
Books to Start a Conversation on Marriage and Love
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Grades K to 2
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding looks at the fears that a young girl has of losing her favorite uncle when he plans to get married. Everyone in the family is happy, but her. She finally sees that she is not losing an uncle but gaining another uncle.
Donovan's Big Day, by Lesléa Newman
Grades Pre-K to 2
A picture-book about love, family and marriage, Donovan’s Big Day captures the excitement of a young boy as he and his extended family prepare for the boy’s two moms’ wedding.
Mom & Mum Are Getting Married, by Ken Setterington and Alice Priestly
Grades Pre-K to 2
When Rosie comes home from school one day to find out that her moms are getting married she has many questions. Will she get to be a flower girl or carry the rings? Will there be food and a fabulous wedding cake? At a small, simple ceremony, family, friends and fun come together for a celebration of love in a changing world.
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