Dear Launch Community,
Happy Pride month! This June, we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the incredible strides we’ve made towards equality and equity over the past 50 years.
At Launch, we’re driven to create spaces where our students are encouraged and uplifted into being 100% themselves, and develop their understanding of their own identities and empathy for others. We normalize and celebrate respect through regular practices such as asking students their pronouns. We build a sense of belonging by welcoming every LGBTQ+ member of our community with open arms so that they never have to worry about how they’ll be perceived or treated at Launch.
We strive to make each day of the year feel like Pride Month because it’s important to recognize and see the beauty of our LGBTQ+ children, families, teachers, and staff every day. And during June, it’s particularly important to acknowledge and honor the history of the modern gay rights movement, the struggles we’ve overcome, and ensure that our LGBTQ+ community members are proud of who they are and feel safe to express that pride at Launch.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the history of Pride Month, it commemorates the Stonewall uprising. The Stonewall Inn in New York City is a gay bar that was frequently raided by police, but on June 28, 1969, the patrons resisted in order to reclaim their space after years of police brutality and oppression. The uprising was a violent and bloody clash with police, with protestors arrested and beaten by officers, and was fundamentally a fight for survival. At the time, not only did anti-discrimination laws not apply to gay and transgender people, but many states also criminalized being gay, lesbian, or transgender. Members of the LGBTQ+ community couldn’t safely express who they were and love who they loved without putting themselves at a significant risk of violence, hate crimes, prison sentences, fines, getting fired from their job, evicted from their home, and losing friends and family.
While the Stonewall uprising is frequently credited with launching the modern gay rights movement, LGBTQ+ activism began long before 1969, and people of color, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people, and women played a vital role, despite those contributions getting erased or whitewashed in favor of white activists. I encourage you to read about the contributions of transgender activists and activists of color, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
There are some people who think children are too young to learn about Pride Month or be “exposed” to different gender identities, sexual orientations, or family structures. We believe that children are never too young to learn about the broad diversity of the human experience and the history of the civil rights movement, including the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. We want them to develop empathy, kindness, and respect for everyone. Launch’s children, families, teachers, and staff reflect a wide variety of gender identities and/or expressions, sexual orientations, and family structures, and our goal is to not just create a safe, tolerant space, but an affirming space where they can be their full authentic selves. We want them to know that we celebrate all of who they are and love them for it, not in spite of it.
It’s important for each of us to model allyship and create a space where all students and families are supported. As the Washington Post wrote, “Straight parents modeling allyship aren’t only teaching kids to be advocates. They are also letting kids, however they go on to identify as they get older, know that they’re okay, too. Surrounded by adults who model solidarity with the LGBTQ community, kids learn that their individuality is worthy of support, too. This potentially lifesaving message can open vital lines of communication between parents and questioning kids.”
While we’ve made enormous progress towards civil rights and ensuring that our nation’s laws and policies affirm and protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people since the Stonewall uprising, we still have work to do. There is still violence and hate directed at the LGBTQ+ community, particularly those who are transgender or gender-nonconforming and/or people of color. Across the country, states have been passing anti-transgender legislation including measures specifically aimed at students, including laws banning transgender girls from participating in school sports and preventing transgender students from using bathrooms according to their gender identity.
Launch strongly opposes any law that discriminates against transgender students or seeks to prevent them from authentically expressing their gender identity and/or expression. Any discrimination against gay, transgender, or gender-nonconforming students, families, or staff will never be tolerated at Launch, and we will fight to protect the rights of all people to be who they are and love who they love.
Angela Griffin, CEO
Guides & Resources for Families
Books for Kids