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How a dog and chicken are teaching kids about LGBTQ identity

The Pride Understanding videos explain gender identity, same-sex marriage and transgender concepts

Pride Understanding Videos

The Pride Understanding videos follow Gulliver (centre) and Emmet (right), as they learn about gender identity, same-sex marriage and transgender. (Youtube)

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How do you discuss LGBTQ concepts with Grade 3 students?

You use puppets, naturally.

That's the concept behind three videos launched this week by Pride London Festival and the group M.I. Understanding, which produces mental health videos aimed at school-age children.

"If you're watching a video and puppets have anxiety, or they're dealing with issues all, of the sudden it takes away that barrier," said Paula Jesty, executive producer for M.I. Understanding.

"Hands go up and people start conversations, and so they really are an effective communication tool."

The Pride Understanding videos follow a dog, Gulliver, and a chicken, Emmet, as they learn about same-sex marriage, transgender and gender identity.

Each of the videos emphasize the point that everyone has things about them that are different, and that gender identity and sexual attraction are just two examples.

"It really is talking about the strength involved in recognizing somebody's differences, and encouraging everybody to accept someone for who they are," said Jesty.

"That's where the topic can be discussed in a proper way and not just glazed over as it would be in younger years and maybe in later years you might want to get more in depth."

School board involvement

The videos were made in consultation with the 519 Community Centre in Toronto and the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), said Andrew Rosser, who is president of Pride London Festival and makes a cameo in the same-sex marriage video as a gay dad.

"The Thames Valley District School Board has really jumped on board, because this is a full rounded program," said Rosser.

"It's not just showing a video and sending the kids home, there's a full complement of brochures and information for the students as well as the parents, the teachers and the principals."

Earlier this week, the TVDSB pulled funding from the Grand Theatre High School Project's production of Prom Queen, a Canadian musical about a gay high school teen who wants to take his boyfriend to prom.

"We really do hope that they'll reverse that decision," said Rosser. 

"Pride London Festival has been supportive of the community efforts, we donated $500 to the campaign to get the play on, and we're going to support and promote that play because we think it's an important story that needs to be told." 

Jesty said she hopes to work with the London Catholic District School Board on getting the videos into their classrooms as well.

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