Recognized annually in June, Pride Month is a joyful celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and their sweeping contributions to history worldwide, particularly in the fight for equality. At Akron Children’s, we support and encourage all employees, patients and their families to be their authentic selves. To celebrate, we asked several Akron Children’s employees to share what Pride Month means to them.
What’s your job title and how long have you worked at Akron Children’s?
I am an occupational therapist at Akron Children’s Pediatrics & Rehabilitative Services, Medina. I’ve worked here for about 1.5 years.
What do you enjoy most about your work at Akron Children’s?
When someone asks me what I do for work, I tell them that I get to play with kids for a living! As an occupational therapist, I help people with physical and mental health challenges participate in their everyday meaningful occupations. For kids, that means I help them develop the skills they need through their occupation of play! I love that I get to make therapy fun and see each child grow and develop into better versions of themselves. I enjoy getting to know each child and their individual differences. Working with children helps me reconnect to my inner child, and I am always learning from my patients. The progress and impact I’m able to make on a child and their family is truly a rewarding experience.
As part of the LGBTQIA+ community, what does Pride Month mean to you?
The history of Pride Month began with the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. The first Pride march was created to commemorate those who fought for their lives, so they could live as their authentic selves. Although we have come so far since then, we still have a lot of work to do. Many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those in marginalized communities of color, still experience violence daily. Pride to me is a protest and an ongoing movement for equal rights.
How do you celebrate and recognize Pride Month?
Although I celebrate my queerness and my LGBTQIA+ community every day, during Pride Month, I like to take this opportunity to give my money directly to queer people, rather than buying rainbow merchandise from corporate stores. I support queer-owned businesses, and I volunteer and participate in events run by my queer community.
How can others be an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community, whether it’s here at Akron Children’s or outside of the workplace?
Pride is not just about parties and rainbows. It is a movement and fight that we are still fighting today. I would encourage allies to research the history of Pride and the Stonewall uprising. Be willing to get to know us, while being open and understanding. Speak up and advocate for us, especially when you see our voices getting silenced.
I wear a pin with my pronouns (she/they) on my badge and have received positive feedback from patients and caregivers. I had one patient tell me in a session, “When I saw your pronouns on your badge, I knew I was safe.” I was so happy to know that I created a safe space for my patient.
During my interview with Akron Children’s, my manager, Sara, noticed my pronouns. She asked me about them because she wanted to respect my identity and introduce me to the staff appropriately. To this day, she continues to use both of my pronouns (she/they) to address me, and it makes me feel affirmed, supported and respected.
Akron Children’s staff can join the LGBTQIA+ Employees and Allies Employee Resource Group to get more involved. It is never too late to learn and connect with others to support our LGBTQIA+ employees and patients!