Beyond RSE explores the origins and variations of the different Pride flags used to symbolise the LGBTQ+ community. Before we start though…
What is Pride?
Pride is a celebration of equal rights and diversity within the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month is celebrated annually each June, marking the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. At Stonewall, various LGBTQ+ rights activists rioted against police raids, demanding the establishment of places where LGBTQ+ people could go and be open about their orientation without fear of arrest. The Stonewall Riots are seen as a key catalyst for the gay liberation movement.
Although Pride is a celebration of LGBTQ+ rights and progress, it also brings to light the struggles that many LGBTQ+ people still face across the globe.
Use our LGBTQ+ Equality Debate Pack with your students to examine some of the issues that LGBTQ+ people still face.
Pride flags are one of the most recognisable representations of LGBTQ+ pride. They are important because they allow members of the LGBTQ+ community, and members of each individual community within that umbrella, to unite and celebrate their identities. The Original Pride Flag and Progress Pride Flag are seen as umbrella flags representing the whole LGBTQ+ community, however, there are also a variety of flags that represent individual identities within the LGBTQ+ community. Our LGBTQ+ Pride Flags Display Poster and Pride Flags Bunting Pack are perfect for decorating your classroom or learning space with Pride flags in celebration of Pride Month.
The Original Pride Flag
The Original Pride Flag, also known as the Rainbow Flag or the Gay Pride Flag, is one of the most well-known symbols today that celebrates LGBTQ+ pride around the world. Attributed to Gilbert Baker in 1978, it originally comprised eight coloured stripes. However, the pink (representing sex) and turquoise (representing magic) stripes were later removed from the flag.
The six colours of the Rainbow Flag are red (representing life), orange (representing healing), yellow (representing sunlight), green (representing nature), indigo (representing harmony and peace) and violet (representing spirit).
Different Pride Flags
The Progress Pride Flag
In 2017, Philadelphia City Hall revealed their new design for a Pride Flag, which included black and brown stripes to represent LGBTQ+ people of colour and the discrimination that they face. This pride flag was criticised by some for having the stripes alongside the rainbow stripes of the pride flag, as some people felt that it confused the message of the Rainbow Pride Flag.
American artist Daniel Quasar (pronouns: xe/xem/xyr) developed xyr design for what is now the Progress Pride Flag in 2018. Xe placed the brown (representing LGBTQ+ people of colour), black (representing LGBTQ+ people of colour, as well as those living with HIV/AIDS and those lost to AIDS-related illnesses), light blue, pink and white (representing transgender people) stripes in the shape of an arrow, to show that progress towards inclusivity still needs to be made.
Why not use our Pride Flags PowerPoint Matching Activity with your students to teach them about the meanings of the different Pride flags, or use our Understanding Gender and Sexuality Lesson Pack to give students an introduction to orientation, gender identity and gender expression?
Agender Pride Flag
Someone who identifies as having no gender may describe themself as agender. This identity exists within the umbrella of non-binary genders. The colours of the Agender Pride Flag are black and white (representing the absence of gender), grey (representing the semi-agender experience) and green (representing non-binary genders). The green is deliberately used, as it is the inverse of the purple in the non-binary flag, which represents those whose identities relate to the gender binary. This highlights the fact that agender as an identity exists outside of the gender spectrum.
Asexual Pride Flag
Asexual (from ancient Greek a- meaning ‘not’ or ‘without’) is a sexual orientation. Someone who does not experience any or much sexual attraction may identify as asexual or ace. This term exists on a spectrum. Someone who is asexual may have a different romantic orientation. Asexual is also used as an umbrella term for a variety of different sexual orientations within the asexual spectrum. Unlike celibacy (a choice to abstain from sexual activity), asexuality is considered to be an intrinsic part of who someone is, like other sexual orientations. The four colours of the Asexual Pride Flag are black (representing asexuality), grey (representing grey-sexuality), white (representing non-asexual partners and allies) and purple (representing community).
Aroace Pride Flag
Someone who does not experience any or much sexual or romantic attraction may identify as aroace. The term comes from the abbreviations for aromantic and asexual, which are aro and ace, respectively. The colours of the Aroace Pride Flag are orange (representing community), yellow (representing love and friendships that exist outside of conventional ideas of romantic and sexual relationships), white (representing wholeness), and two shades of blue (representing the aroace community and the spectrum of aroace identities and experiences).
Bisexual Pride Flag
Bisexual is a sexual orientation. Someone who is sexually attracted to two or more sexes or genders may identify as bisexual or bi. This term exists on a spectrum, so someone who is bisexual may be more sexually attracted to a specific sex or gender. Someone might be bisexual but have a different romantic orientation. The colours of the Bisexual Pride Flag are pink (representing attraction to the same sex or gender), blue (representing attraction to the opposite sex or gender) and purple (the mix of pink and blue, representing attraction to different genders coming together as bisexuality).
Gay Male Pride Flag
The Gay Male Pride Flag celebrates males who are attracted to other males. There has been some controversy around different iterations of the Gay Male Pride Flag, however the current Gay Male Pride Flag is inclusive of transgender and gender non-conforming people who identify as gay. The colours of the Gay Male Pride Flag represent community, healing and joy (shades of turquoise and green), gender non-conforming, non-binary and transgender people (white), love, fortitude and diversity (shades of blue and purple).
Gender-Fluid Pride Flag
A person who moves between two or more different gender identities or expressions at different times or in different situations may identify as gender-fluid. The five stripes of the Gender-Fluid Pride Flag are: pink (representing femininity), white (representing lack of gender), purple (the mix of pink and blue, representing a combination of masculinity and femininity), black (representing all genders) and blue (representing masculinity).
Genderqueer Pride Flag
A person whose gender identity and/or expression are neither male nor female, or are between, beyond, or some combination of genders, may identify as genderqueer. This identity is often related to the social construction of gender, gender stereotypes and the gender binary system. The flag was originally created to represent all non-binary and genderqueer identities, but as the genderqueer community grew, non-binary people felt that it did not represent them, and the Non-binary Pride Flag was designed in 2014. The colours of the Genderqueer Pride Flag are lavender (representing androgyny), white (representing agender identities) and green (representing non-binary identities).
Intersex Pride Flag
Differences in sex development (DSD) are a group of conditions characterised by variations in genitalia, reproductive systems, chromosomes, hormones and/or other external sex characteristics. It means a person’s sex development is different to those who are biologically categorised as either ‘male’ or ‘female’. This is also known as differences in sex characteristics (DSC) or variations in sex characteristics (VSC). Some people with DSD may also identify as intersex.
The Intersex Pride Flag is such because, although many people that identify as intersex consider themselves to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, not all people with DSD do. The yellow and purple of the Intersex Pride Flag are gender-neutral colours, and the circle represents wholeness and completeness.
Lesbian Pride Flag
The Lesbian Pride Flag celebrates females who are attracted to other females. This term (and its corresponding flag) is not exclusive to those who were registered as female at birth, and may also be used by transgender and some non-binary people. Some people may use the term gay. The seven colours of the Lesbian Pride Flag, in order from the top to the bottom of the flag, represent gender non-conformity, independence, community, unique relationships to womanhood serenity and peace, love and sex, and femininity.
Non-Binary Pride Flag
A person who does not identify as male or female, or solely as one of those two genders, may identify as non-binary. It is often used as an umbrella term for many different gender identities that fall outside of the male/female gender binary, such as genderqueer. This flag was not created to replace the Genderqueer Pride Flag, but created to represent those that did not feel adequately represented by it.
The four colours of the Non-Binary Pride Flag are yellow (representing non-binary gender), white (representing those with many or all genders), purple (representing those who feel both male and female, or fluid between the two) and black (representing those who identify as agender).
Pansexual Pride Flag
Pansexual is a sexual orientation. Someone who experiences sexual attraction regardless of sex or gender may identify as pansexual or pan. Someone might be pansexual but have a different romantic orientation. Pansexuality is different from being attracted to everybody else; although pan people may be attracted to all genders, they are likely to still have personal preferences that dictate who they are attracted to.
The Pansexual Pride Flag was created in 2010 to make the distinction between pansexuality and bisexuality. The three colours are magenta (representing attraction to those who identify as female), yellow (representing non-binary attraction) and cyan (representing attraction to those who identify as male).
Transgender Pride Flag
A person whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were registered with at birth may identify as transgender or trans. For example, a trans male might be a male that was registered as female at birth and a trans female might be a female that was registered as male at birth. People who are non-binary may or may not also identify as transgender.
The Transgender Pride Flag was designed by Monica Helms in 1999. It is designed so that it is the right way up no matter which way it is held. The colours of the Transgender Pride Flag are light blue (typically associated with baby boys), light pink (typically associated with baby girls) and white (representing those who are in the process of transitioning, or who identify as having no gender).
Celebrating Pride and the Different Pride Flags
Decorating your classroom with Pride Flags is a great way to celebrate Pride Month, however, it is not the only way to do so. Openly talking about LGBTQ+ topics, both during Pride and throughout the academic year, is beneficial for all students. LGBTQ+ students and those that are exploring their LGBTQ+ identity may feel better seen and represented by this inclusion, and students that do not identify as LGBTQ+ learn not just tolerance, but to celebrate our differences. Beyond RSE has curated a Pride Month category with a number of fantastic resources, including our Pride Month Card Sort, allowing students to explore the terminology around LGBTQ+ and our Pride Month Quiz PowerPoint to test their knowledge!
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