What does pride mean to you?
These —the parting words from the book, The Meaning of Pride written by Rosiee Thor and illustrated by Sam Kirk have had a powerful impact in my social studies classroom recently. For some readers, the book is an introduction to Pride, what it means and a celebration of notable LGBTQIAP+ people everywhere. For other readers, it is a conversation starter and even more importantly, a window into themselves.
A revamp of the fourth grade social studies curriculum to more closely align with the Massachusetts State Standards has provided fourth graders in my school with the opportunity to think about the United States Regions in a fresh and exciting way. As each fourth grader travels around the country from region to region, they will be charged with thinking about how a specific event in the region has impacted the rest of the world around them, including themselves.
In the Northeast Region, our overarching theme is Pride in Yourself as we continue to delve more into identity work we started earlier in this unit and learn about how Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to legalize gay marriage.
Fourth graders began this work, first in the picture book, Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America’s first Gay Wedding by Rob Sanders where the students thought about the theme. They heard the following messages:
Some laws don’t protect the rights of all people.
Some people love each other so much that they are willing to take risks for each other.
The next day, we immersed ourselves in an informational article, jigsawed and taught each other ideas about why the freedom to marry matters?
People everywhere could be happy.
Gay people couldn’t be excluded, instead they would be included.
Non-gay people could celebrate all of their friends and family’s love equally.
Our country values fairness and freedom.
And yet, What does pride mean to you?
As a culminating activity, students were brought back to our overarching theme, Pride in Yourself. Together, we read The Meaning of Pride as it illustrated for us the many different ways that people can show pride in themselves for being exactly who they are. At the back of the book, in a letter to the reader, Rosiee Thor and Sam Kirk express, “Pride is not the opposite of being humble. It is the opposite of being ashamed. You deserve to be proud!” Reflecting back on the discoveries the students had made over the past few days, we turned inward pondering the following questions:
What is it about your identity that makes you proud?
What is it about your identity that you like to celebrate with others?
What is it about your identity that you would be willing to protect?
Students created images of themselves as artists, travelers, musicians, big sisters, athletes, etc. However, it is one student that emphasized for me the reason why this work is especially important. All children need to have the language and opportunity to express themselves in a way that makes them feel proud —no matter what that looks like. Confidently, drawing the pride flag on her person, this student found a safe space among an adult and a friend to quietly, but proudly express, “I like girls.” Just like that a window opened, and she seized an opportunity to be seen.
Pride means love is love is love is love. And most of all, pride means loving yourself.
What does pride mean to you?