All Are Welcome Here, a Pride Month Blog by Dr. Prantik Saha
An Inclusive Practice and Ally for LGBTQIA+ Youth and Families
I think we can all agree that as parents, caretakers, pediatric care providers, and teachers, we want the best for all children. What does that mean? We want them to be happy, fulfilled, and not lacking in fundamental human needs, whether physical, mental, or emotional. How do we ensure that we are doing the best we can when it comes to providing care and cultivating an environment that fosters this happiness and fulfillment? You can say this is a no-brainer, and you’re right – we feed our children and provide clothing, shelter, education, etc. We bring them to the pediatric office when they’re sick and also when they are well, so we can prevent health problems before they occur.
We Want All Children to be Happy with Themselves
In conjunction with this, we want them to be happy with themselves and content with who they are and their identity. And we know that part of growing up includes discovering, reinforcing, and pride in their identity. Sometimes their identity evolves and changes. And what do we do as caretakers during this process of discovery and evolution? We support our children to the best of our ability – unconditionally. One year they might be into soccer, but the year after, they might favor another sport or even a musical instrument. Do we try to force them to do otherwise? Of course not. We honor their desires, goals, and identity formation, whether it’s buying the equipment needed for a sport, finding a suitable teacher for music, etc.
MVP is an Evidence-based Pediatrics Practice
There is no reason why this is any different for gender identity and sexuality. Of course, we might not start thinking about the latter until the pre-teen years, but science has shown that children can formulate their gender identity as early as preschool. And we know that without that support, children and teens who are trans or gender non-conforming have a much higher risk of depression, anxiety, suicidality, etc. Why would we not do our best to reduce this risk as much as possible?
This is the question I pose to those parts of the country that have let their insensitivity and lack of knowledge snowball into hateful and hurtful legislation. How do we explain such legislation to our children who hear the news? I cannot imagine what trans children, as well as LGBTQIA+ families, are feeling today with the outpouring of outrageous initiatives such as criminalizing doctors and healthcare institutions that provide gender-affirming care and outlawing any education about gender and sexuality. The reality is – children have always received education about gender and sexuality – as long as it does not deviate from the traditional heterosexual roles and expectations for the sex assigned at birth.
Differences Should be Welcomed and Respected
Teaching diversity doesn’t mean indoctrination; it simply means realizing that we have differences and that those differences can and should be welcomed and respected. In recognizing Pride this month, we here at MVP stand strong in welcoming and respecting all children – cis or trans – and all parents and caretakers – straight, gay, lesbian, queer, etc. – in our practice. We believe in providing a safe space for these children and families this month and all year. Let us not only be welcoming and respectful but also celebratory. Wouldn’t such positive affirmations be important for the health of children and families? After all, that is a goal we can all agree upon.
We hope everyone had a great, safe, and healthy Pride Month.