Hundreds of towns and cities host gay pride celebrations each June, but do most people know the history of why they are held this month? The timing honors the June 1969 Stonewall riots, when the New York City police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, and the patrons resisted arrest and fought back over three days.
Answering that and many more questions about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender history and culture is "This Day in June," a whimsical new children's book from APA's children's imprint Magination Press. The book, out this month, aims to teach children respect and understanding of LGBT people and families by showcasing a pride parade of facts on its pages.
Each vibrant spread of "This Day in June" illustrates part of a parade tied to an event or group pivotal to LGBT history or culture, such as one featuring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a satirical order of LGBT "nuns" who promote human rights and respect for diversity. In other spreads, marchers carry banners and signs reading "Love Not Hate" and "Proud Parent," or people ride on elaborate floats followed by cheerleaders and marching bands.
Geared toward preschool and school-age children, the book includes a four-page reading guide that describes the historical or cultural significance of each scene.
The book also includes age-specific advice to parents and caregivers on how to talk to children and even teenagers about sexual orientation and gender identity.
The timing is right for a book like this, says Magination Press editor Kristine Enderle, who fast-tracked its production in order to release it in time for June pride celebrations. "The book reflects a climate that is changing and more accepting. With more and more celebrities and athletes coming out and restrictive and discriminatory marriage laws being challenged, parents are eager for ways to talk to their children about the LGBT community," she says.
It's also APA's first children's book to address sexual orientation and gender diversity. Author Gayle E. Pitman, PhD, a professor of psychology and women's studies at Sacramento City College, wrote the story after noticing students in her psychology of sexual orientation classes knew very little about LGBT history.
"Many of them don't know what the pink triangle means, the significance of the rainbow flag, they don't know what Stonewall is," says Pitman, who covers each in her detailed reader's guide. Pitman was also motivated by the lack of children's books about LGBT diversity or families.
Two major LGBT advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), have endorsed "This Day in June." APA has also sent advance copies to LGBT publications and community organizations and PFLAG chapters throughout the country, as well as to such magazines as the School Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly.
"This is a momentous first book for us," adds Enderle. "We are really proud and happy to be able to tell this important story."
— Jamie Chamberlin
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