Committed Collective Action:  The Journey Continues

by Donna Kennebeck, Iowa AEYC High Performing Inclusive Organization (HPIO) Chair

As I write this article it is the beginning of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. This is a month-long celebration to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals, advocates, and allies have on history.

The rainbow LGBTQ+ flag is prominently displayed throughout the month. Gilbert Baker, an American artist, gay rights activist, and U.S. Army veteran, created the flag in 1978 as a new symbol for the gay and lesbian political movement.

As with many things in our world, the acronym represented by the rainbow flag has evolved over time. In the early 1990’s LGBT, (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), was prevalent and is still recognized. In recent years we have seen a variety of letters added to the original four as an increased awareness of the need to be inclusive of other sexual identities to offer better representation. Currently the Q and + have been added, the Q representing Queer/questioning.  What about the plus? Because the purpose of the acronym is to represent the tremendous diversity of people who are same/similar gender attracted and transgender, the addition of the plus seems better able to fully capture that diversity.


The goal of using more inclusive terms like LGBTQ+ is to improve visibility, recognition, and acceptance. It is important to remember that LGBTQ+ people continue to face discrimination. Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, in particular, are frequently the target of social and economic marginalization as well as harassment and violence.9

Terms and definitions are always evolving. When it comes to something as personal as sexuality and gender identity, these terms and definitions can mean different things to different people. While working to understanding and use terms such as LGBTQ+ can help increase the visibility of people who have faced marginalization and discrimination, it is important to remember that the most important labels or definitions are the ones that people give to themselves. (Retrieved from What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? (, 6-6-2021)


Nowakowski defined the “+” in an article online in the Elite Daily;
“stands for love, acceptance, and embracing of all."

As we work towards understanding diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, I am continually reminded that the attitudes and behaviors are not all that different from developmentally appropriate practice. Respecting culture has been part of best practice in early childhood education for decades.

“Love and acceptance" are behaviors that early childhood educators pride themselves on. We hug and welcome all to our homes, classrooms, and programs. “Embracing all” is going to take some reflection and growth on our part. We need to go to the next level. We need to go beyond having picture books with two moms or two dads in the family. It is about reflection and discussions and questioning: classroom celebrations (Mother’s Day/ Father’s Day), dismissing children by gender, choosing pink for girls and blue for boys. It is about using pronouns in a respectful manner. 

Why Gender Pronouns Matter?

From an early age, you may have been taught that pronouns should follow specific rules along the gender binary: “she, her and hers” for girls and women and “he, him and his” for boys and men. However, as our society has progressed in understanding gender identity, our language must also be updated. Our use of pronouns should be accurate and convey our understanding and respect for all people, especially for those who are transgender, gender non-conforming and nonbinary.

For more information and practice activities, go to the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) Pronouns: Why Do They Matter? (MS & HS) (

As always comments, stories, questions, suggestions, are welcome.
Donna Kennebeck
Pronouns: she/her/hers
HPIO Chair Iowa AEYC