Classroom Tips: The Colours of the Pride Flag

The Colours of the Pride Flag & Activities

The late Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in 1978 with 8 different colours, each a symbol meant to strengthen and celebrate LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit) communities. The flag was initially pink (for sex), red (for life), orange (for healing), yellow (for sunlight), green (for nature), blue (for art), indigo (for harmony), and violet (for the human spirit). Learning that hot pink fabric wasn’t readily available in large amounts and wanting there to be an even number of colours that were distinct, Baker eventually dropped pink & indigo. It was then that the rainbow flag we know and use to show Pride and LGBTQ2S+ positive spaces in our schools and communities was born.1

Knowing our histories is always a key part of bettering our futures. Pride Month is a time to celebrate all aspects of LGBTQ2S+ experiences, seeing the wholeness of our identities, and acknowledging where around the world (including in our own backyard) there are still issues that need addressing.

There are large global concerns like refugees from Chechnya & Russia escaping through Rainbow Railroad.2 Here at home, UCP leader Jason Kenney is challenging queer & trans inclusion by what threatens to out kids to parents or families that may not accept them.3

While this is happening, celebrating the passion of intersectional queer and trans activists shows the diverse reach of the beautiful people making this world better for LGBTQS+ students and youth.4 Pride Month offers all sorts of angles and entry points to discussing the rights, successes, and challenges of LGBTQ2S+ people.

What Can I Do?

In your classrooms, we thought it would be valuable to breakdown of the rainbow flag into separated mini-activities, bits of knowledge, or self-care pieces centred around what each colour represents.

Red- Life: Ask your class to share their gender pronouns and tell the story of their name. Use their first name, last name, middle name, a chosen name. Students can talk about what their name means, why they were given that particular name, or if they could choose a name for themselves what it would it be. This last prompt is especially helpful if the student doesn’t know that story behind their name. Highlight the power of honouring people’s pronouns, and why our names mean so much to our lives. This small act of inclusion can move mountains for you, your students, and your school.

Orange- Healing: Try a brief meditation with your class and discuss the power of renewal.

Yellow- Sunlight: It’s spring! Take classes outside and search for rainbows in nature. Create art that shows the sun & discuss that the sun rising every day is a reminder of our re-birth.

Green- Nature: Share this awesome piece about 6 queer women environmentalists demonstrating some amazing intersectional work.

Blue- Art: Visit CBC’s short docs celebrating queer and trans artists from across the country. Show a clip in your class and discuss!

Violet- The Human Spirit: Pride Toronto’s theme for 2018 is 35 Years of AIDS Activism.5 Talk about resilience! Communities forced to confront the plague of HIV/AIDS are still going strong and this year, North America’s largest Pride festival will celebrate the continuing strength & passion of these individuals throughout June.

However you honour the achievements and discuss the difficulties of the LGBTQ2S+ world this Pride Month, we wish you the best and hope you do so with empathy and an eye to inclusion of the myriad identities on that beautiful rainbow spectrum. Happy Pride!

Sources
1http://www.slate.com/articles/life/explainer/2012/06/rainbows_and_gay_pride_how_the_rainbow_became_a_symbol_of_the_glbt_movement_.html

2 https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/lgbtq-chechens-escape-to-canada-with-help-from-rainbow-railroad-1.3572195

3 http://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/ucp-passes-controversial-motion-to-re-instate-parental-choice-in-education

4 https://www.colorlines.com/content/queer-and-trans-activists-color-speak-out-future-activism