Sunday, 24 July 2016

Why I will be marching in the Pride Parade this year

I appreciate that not everyone will share my views… that there will be those who do not approve of the lifestyles of others… my request is that you read this with the understanding it is about equality for all… for all humans to be equally valued… that being different is not bad… it is simply not the same as you… that we have more similarities with each other than differences in the end…




Next Saturday, July 30th, I will be taking part in the Pride Parade here in Stockholm.
I will be taking part as a mother, a teacher, a fellow human being.

I have always been a person who has felt strongly about valuing others… those who think like me, but also those who are very different from myself. And this has covered race, religion, culture, gender, sexuality… you name it, I try to be as open to the idea as possible… open to the idea of understanding, of wanting to listen… and most importantly having respect.

This is something that I felt was important for my own three children to have… and so there has always been an openness at hoe to talk about all kinds of people as the norm… not as if they were different, but just everyday people.

My daughters (twins) are now 15, my son is now 12. I find it fascinating talking with them and learning about their experiences… and how I have impacted on their lives… the good and the bad…

One of the things they conveyed recently was that one of the biggest shocks they got in their lives was when they were watching a film about gay rights in school and so many of their friends reacted shocked or disgusted… for my daughters being gay was normal, just as not being gay is normal… so they found it odd that so many found it not normal…

Of course if most of society thinks that something is not normal… then it is going to be quite hard to react normally with people different from themselves… whether it be gay or something else.

As a child I can remember all the times that I felt different and the sense of not belonging… I am 1.78m (just over 5'10¨) so I am tall (not excessively tall)… in fact I am 3 inches/7.5cm taller than the average male (in UK)… I was taller than all my male teachers in school… there were no teachers taller than me… although my German teacher was the same height…
Its not a big outsider thing, on the great scale of things… but it did make finding clothes that fitted hard… if you are short you can take them up… not quite as easy to add on…
It meant I bought a lot of men's clothes so that I could get the length.

I have also moved to Sweden… I have felt what it feels like to be an outsider… not to understand a language (although I do now!!) to be continuously judged as an English person… and that happened too when I lived for half a year in Sweden… when people in Adelaide discovered I was from the UK I was so surprised at just how many people accused me of brining over the sparrows and rats and other animals damaging Australia's beautiful indigenous wildlife… I know for a fact that it was NOT me that brought them over… more likely the ancestors of these people accusing me! But you kind of apologised and scuttled away.

Oh yeah, people are taller here in Sweden, so I don't feel quite as different… but I do work in a branch with lots of little people… means I get lots of bruises on my knees trying to manage tucking my legs under the child sized tables! hehe

Anyway - so at some point/s in our lives we have all felt different. The question is how do we use that feeling to ensure we do not allow for others to be made to feel different, not to be included…

During this last week I have been working on a plan for equality in our preschool setting, and also working on a handbook to help us question the way we look at things, the way we work, how we observe the children and how we can improve the preschool to be a place of equal opportunities.

The equal opportunity plan discusses children's rights, talks about what is discrimination, harassment bullying etc… how we work actively against it, what happens if it does occur… how it should be reported, documented etc and how the preschool's vision works for an inclusive environment…
it also explains various areas where people are discriminated etc

The handbook thing is more a reflective tool, to get the pedagogues critically thinking about their own prejudices and stereotypes… also to start dialogues about who this applies to, how our language, spoken and unspoken affect the children, how the environment affects the children… and how we can be more norm-aware… what are the majority groups what are the minority groups and how can we make the minority groups more part of the norm, everyday part of our lives to enable the children to be respectful and open to differences… not just to see the differences but enabled to see the similarities…
There is also a need to explore the multiple.identities of children… they are just not one identity - e.g. preschool child, but also sex, gender, religion, cultural group, their family etc etc etc… they are an individual and a member of the preschool group… but also their family… and we need to look at the complexity of each individual and give them value…
also exploring how we can actively support the children, by dealing with our own feeling s first… so a kind of philosophical approach… its not quite finished yet…

and of course its all in Swedish… and connected to Swedish school laws, Children's Rights, the Swedish preschool curriculum etc…


So back to the Pride Parade
I am marching for equal opportunities … for awareness that all children, alls families alls people have the right to be equally valued, and that they are included… to help us see the similarities and not just the differences… and at the same time celebrate diversity…


its complex

But basically I am a person that wants peace… and peace can only come through acceptance, through listening and understanding…



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