Saskatchewan

'It's okay to think differently': Regina teacher creates Pride presentation for kids

Aaron Warner created a slideshow presentation to help teachers and parents talk to their children about Pride.

Aaron Warner say it's important children see themselves represented; 'not just that heteronormative content'

Aaron Warner doesn't take credit for the materials created; he just put them together in one easy teacher resource. (From the Pride Resources Presentation. )

A Regina teacher has created a slideshow presentation for teachers and parents on how to talk to children about Pride.

"Initially, it was just for my own staff," said Aaron Warner, a Grade 8 teacher in Regina. "I think a lot of people would want to embrace [Pride topics] and bring it into their teaching."

Warner teaches at Ecole Wascana Plains and said some of the challenges for teachers can be a lack of understanding and not wanting to teach about Pride topics incorrectly.

"The subject of Pride and of LGBTQ conversations at school is something that I've been committed to and engaged with for quite some time," Warner said.

"I think it's important that every student sees themselves or their lives or their personal experiences reflected in their learning," he said, "not just that heteronormative content that we as a rule see."

Aaron Warner said he teaches his two sons about Pride topics as well: 'We’re reading a book called Jacob’s New Dress and the story is just about a young boy who wants to wear a dress to school and it kind of tackles some of the challenges families may face in creating that.' (Submitted by Aaron Warner)

Warner offered this as an example: "The language of 'Talk to your mom and dad about this' or 'Are you mom and dad coming?' — that automatically excludes certain students."

Warner said he wants to normalize the conversation.

"I certainly think that the conversation about sexual diversity can start at a really young age, and it doesn't need to necessarily be so explicitly defined."

"I think the big topic for the young grades is the idea that love is love and the ability to share love with somebody, to express love openly and publicly in a healthy way is important," Warner said. "When we start to define love or those types of intimate relationships in a singular way, historically that's where we've put up those barriers."

Warner said that starting this teaching at a young age means when the children reach his Grade 8 class, they can move forward and talk about larger and more in-depth topics.

"Where I teach we can talk about 'Why is there a representation of gay and lesbian or bisexual couples in pop culture or media? Why only in recent years has the gay character in movies and TV not been a comical stereotypical character? Why is it only now that they're starting to exist?'" he said.

"We can really look at and start to understand homophobia and some of the horrible violence that still occurs."

Slides in Aaron Warner's presentation are meant to break down topics into understandable information for children. (From Pride Resources Presentation)

Warner said he knows that some children are learning these topics in school and being taught something different at home.

"I think it's important for kids to know the history and start to learn at this age so they can start to form their own opinions and stances on things."

Warner said the student reception has been positive and he has not heard any pushback from parents.

Warner said being the son of a teacher and a social worker, he grew up in an open household where he knew he would be accepted regardless of who he grew up to be. Now as a heterosexual adult, he wants to teach the same acceptance to his students and children.

"If you think you're an LGBTQ youth or a young person who's still trying to figure out who they are, when they get to see that kind of support, it's huge. And creating that safe place that we need all of our kids to have."

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition

now