Ed Drew suggests ways to engage in Pride Month without compromise
We are in Pride month, when all things LGBTQ are celebrated and taught. Here’s a message we received from a parent:
“We’re wondering what to do about the fact that our four-year-old’s nursery is having a Pride day … talking about different families, saying that everyone is loved, painting rainbows. I’m scratching my head. This is the world we live in. We don’t want to be the grumpy Christians taking our kid out of school, when most of it would just go over his head anyway. Do we send him in, and let the nursery know that it’s been hard for us as Christians to do that, but we want to show that we aren’t hateful people shunning the world? Do we keep him home and say nothing? Do we try to explain it to him? Do we send him in and ask if they will celebrate a cause close to our hearts?”
I expect that this parent is not alone in wanting to be sympathetic to their school’s desire to celebrate diversity, to be compassionate towards those who have been treated poorly and to be clear with their own children on Christian distinctives.
Let’s remember that the school is probably not seeking to wage a culture war. I don’t imagine they intend to isolate this family. They are simply blind to our perspective. They can’t imagine how anyone could be against this. The mantra, “Love is love” is compelling. They want to show care and welcome to those who have felt isolated and hurt in the past. Let’s approach our schools with positivity and love. You are probably not walking into a conflict (but you might be).
Personally, I would allow my four year old to attend the school for these days. At this age, they won’t be able to process most of the messages or discern the conceptual differences in perspective. With older children, I would want to be more intentional and explain what we believe, preferably before the days when they will be focused on Pride issues.
I would speak to the headteacher (or failing that, the class teacher). I would smile, arrive with grace and make sure I say that I am for the school, wanting good for the staff, children and families. I would aim for a conversation instead of a letter because it is harder to fill a letter with warmth, but I would offer to send a letter afterwards if it helps them.
I would want to explain that Christians seek to love everyone irrespective of circumstances, preferences, feelings and relationships. We are delighted to celebrate inclusion and to stand against discrimination and bullying. We want our children to be taught these things. But, we don’t believe that all lifestyle choices and relationship decisions are equally good. We believe that marriage is between one woman and one man, while recognising that others are free to decide differently. We believe that God has made boys male and girls female, and those who are confused about that need support, love and care.
I would want to check that the school is teaching the love we need to have for all people rather than requiring children to agree with all lifestyle choices. It’s similar to teaching that we should love Hindus and Muslims, but we don’t teach our children to worship their gods or encourage them to follow those religions.
Finally, as parents, let’s not be afraid and let’s not think that every decision is huge. We are the ones, more than any teacher, lesson or cultural pressure, who are shaping our child. Our words are the ones they trust. The Christian story is better than any other and we can deliver it with love, care and great patience. This subject is not covered by a single, long, comprehensive conversation, particularly with a four year old! We have years to do this. We can have conversations on the walk to school, in the car at the weekend and on the beach on holiday. And we’re not alone in this. We have the Spirit at work through our words of truth and the help of wonderful older saints in our churches who bring brilliant wisdom and perspective. This Pride month, don’t panic - you’ve got this!