Pride Month Is Coming: I Admit To My Own Lack Of Understanding
Please Be Patient: I'm Still Learning
Pride Month - aka June - is rapidly approaching, and with its approach, I'm coming to realize that there is still so very much I need to learn about the LGBTQ+ community.
Initially, I was a little bit discomfited by the fact that I still have much to learn about the LGBTQ+ community and the terminology associated with it, but then I came to the realization that part of learning is realizing that you do have a fair bit to learn. I know that sounds very Yoda-esque - "You must learn by knowing you must learn," and yes, I know I'm paraphrasing - but it's still so very true. I may be the faculty advisor for my school's Gay-Straight Alliance, but that doesn't mean that I'm all knowing as far as the LGBTQ+ community is concerned.
I not only have a lot to learn - such as the true meaning of terms like "non-binary", "genderfluid" or "aromantic," for instance - but I have to be open to the possibility of continuing to learn. I can't just stay idle; I have to understand that, like the rest of the population, my understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and the terminology involved in it will continue to be dynamic and grow and evolve.
I struggle at times with wondering how to best support those in the community, particularly my students, as they are the ones that I see as much as my own children for 10 months of the year. I develop relationships with these kids and if I'm lucky, they will continue to grow and evolve throughout their time in high school. These relationships will hopefully show these kids that even someone as "old" as their teacher (confession: I'm 47) can learn and grow and continue to be someone they can rely on to be in their corner.
I want anyone in my life who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that while I am a very flawed, feeling person, I am still working on learning and growing, just like the rest of us moving along in this crazy world. I still slip up when trying to remember the right pronouns to use for those who identify with they/them pronouns now. If someone undergoes a name change because they now identify as transgender or non-binary, I do my best to not use their "dead" name, but again, I'm not perfect.
I realize there is far more to it than that. There is an understanding of the varying terms like asexual ("without sexual feelings or associations," per Google Dictionary), pansexual ("not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity," according to Google Dictionary), or biromantic (Google Dictionary defines that as "romantically attracted to two or more genders, often including their own) and if or how that's different than bisexual (Wikipedia defines that as "romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or to more than one sex or gender").
To be sure, I've learned a lot from my students and friends about the LGBTQ+ community and how to grow in my understanding of what all of that entails as well. I hope to keep growing in my education about how best to support the community, and to continue to teach my own children about acceptance and the terminology associated with LGBTQ+ issues. I'm hopeful that my continued exploration and growth about that realm will continue to inform how I support my students in class, and should my own children one day determine that they identify as more than just allies to the community, that they know I will do everything in my power to support them and their partners and colleagues in a compassionate and knowledgeable way.
My journey won't be perfect as I continue to acquire knowledge - no one's journey ever is - but all I can do is continue to try and grow. That's the best of anything we could ever accept or do in anything we pursue, but given the LGBTQ+ community is among the marginalized communities, it's important to ensure that as with any human on the planet, that we try and treat members of this unique, vibrant community with the respect and humanity we ourselves would want.
It's about being human.