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A Parents’ Guide To Preparing For & Attending Pride Events

Whether you're toting little ones or sending your teen off on their own, safety and fun are the most important factors.

Originally Published:Β 
Celebrate Pride

With new and horrific attacks against LGBTQ+ people occurring constantly at the hands of lawmakers and citizens alike, Pride remains both a celebration of the beautifully diverse queer community and an acknowledgment that there's still so far to go in the name of true progress and equality.

If you're a straight, cisgender parent who wants to be an ally to LGBTQ+ folks β€” be they your partner or spouse, friends, family members, or children β€” or you're a queer parent yourself, you might be wondering how you can show support during Pride month and beyond. One fun, meaningful way to show up for the queer people in your life is by attending Pride events as a family or encouraging your kids to attend, says Mandalyn Castanon, LMHC, an Indiana-based therapist who works with LGBTQ+ youth.

Whether you're a seasoned Pride vet or a first-timer, there are plenty of ways you can make the most of the experience, ensuring that your kids are safe and having a blast no matter their age or developmental stage.

Before the Event

Castanon has a few key ways you can prepare for a Pride event, especially if you plan to bring your little ones or accompany your tweens/teens or adult kids.

  1. Educate yourself as a parent. "Before you go, take the time to educate yourself about the LGBTQ+ community," says Castanon, especially if you're not particularly familiar with issues that affect queer folks. "Research might include the current political climate and issues, terminology, and culture. It can also be helpful to talk to LGBTQ+ friends or family members to ask what their experiences have been like."
  2. Talk to your kids. "Before you go, start an age-appropriate, open, and honest conversation with your children about LGBTQ+ issues," she adds. "Tell them about some of the things they might see and hear, encourage them to ask any questions they might have, and help them understand that Pride is all about celebrating love, diversity, and acceptance."
  3. Choose age-appropriate events. "There are lots of different activities, shows, and events at Pride events, but not all of those activities will be family friendly or appropriate for children," she says. "Be sure to check program guides, websites, and social media posts, or ask event staff members if the activity or event you are considering would be appropriate for your child's age."

Ensuring Everyone's Safety

The unfortunate reality is that Pride events are a target for extremists and people who wish to harm the most vulnerable members of society. "In the current political climate, it can be scary for parents to think about attending a Pride event when they might be harassed by protesters, might worry about losing their child in a large crowd, or worrying about them being injured during the festivities," says Castanon. "While Pride events can be loads of fun, parents should also take steps to minimize risk for themselves and their families."

Here's how you can prepare yourself and your children in case of an emergency.

  1. Educate your children. "Before attending a pride event, it's important to educate your child about potential risks and how to respond to them," says Castanon. "Explain what to do if someone harasses or threatens them, and emphasize the importance of staying close to you or a trusted adult."
  2. Plan your route: "In case something happens, plan your route in advance to avoid areas that may be crowded or difficult to get through," she suggests. "Remind your children that if you get separated, they should stick to well-lit areas, stay away from isolated alleys or streets, and/or find a trusted adult or a staff member."
  3. Set a meeting place: "Establish a meeting place with your child in case you get separated," she advises. "Choose a location that is easy to find and recognizable, such as a landmark or a booth."
  4. Keep an eye on your child: As you would in any situation, Castanon says you'll want to "keep a close eye on your child at all times, and stay within reach. If your child is old enough to explore on their own, make sure they know the meeting place and check in with them regularly."
  5. Report any incidents: "If you or your child experience harassment or threats, report it immediately to event security or law enforcement," she says. "Don't hesitate to ask for help if you feel unsafe. Pride should be a safe and fun experience for everyone."
  6. Trust your gut. "If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and take action. Leave the area or seek help if necessary," she says.

If your child is old enough to go on their own and would prefer to go sans parents, Castanon has some tips to ensure they're still safe. "Be sure their phone is charged and they have a way to contact you in case something happens. It is also a good idea to check in with your child every few hours to see how things are going, if they have any concerns, and to ensure they are safe. Encourage them to take a bag or a backpack to carry important items like their phone, charger, sunscreen, water, and snacks. Lastly, encourage your child to find a safe person, like a staff member, security, or law enforcement, if they feel uncomfortable or are feeling unsafe."

Pride With Littles In Tow

"Attending a pride event should be a positive and empowering experience for both you and your children," says Castanon. "If you plan to bring younger children, it may feel overwhelming for them at first. Be sure that if you are bringing young children that you bring the necessary supplies to make them comfortable β€” a stroller, sunscreen, change of clothes, and snacks. Be sure to drink lots of water and keep your child fueled and hydrated throughout the event. This will help prevent hunger or thirst-related discomforts. Lastly, look for family-friendly events that offer activities and entertainment suitable for your child's age. These events might include face painting, arts and crafts, music, and food vendors."

The most crucial pride tip, per Castanon? "Encourage your child to have fun and enjoy the event by doing it yourself! By participating in the festivities by showing your love and support for the LGBTQ+ community, your child might feel safer and more secure participating in the festivities and letting loose."

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