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Generation Z for the Win!

This month is not only Indigenous History Month which we have been spending time researching, connecting with leaders and learning, but also a month of Pride. This year Pride month means a bit more to us in our household.

By the end of the first semester last year, my son had developed a close friendship with an individual who is non-binary. The two of them were spending all their time together, laughing, talking, hanging out and just plain having fun. After knowing them for only 2 months, Josh told me that “he felt like he has known them forever”. It was so beautiful to see his face and soul light up when the two of them were together. Being such good friends, Josh asked if I could meet their mom. We hit it off at our first coffee, and when the two kids came to meet us with their “announcement”, neither of us were surprised to learn that they were dating.

I asked them what should I call them? Josh’s special friend? Josh’s partner? They said “girlfriend” is likely best, so with their permission, I now go with that.

This moment marked my own personal glimpse into a non-CIS gendered world that was closer than I ever had with friends or other family members. I can’t help but wonder how might these two navigate their identities as they enter the world as a couple?

I have been thinking about my own assumptions, mental models and what I assumed to be “true” in partnerships and realized that many of those things I am familiar with are just social constructs. What I am learning is that these two kids love each other for who they are. They love each other in a way that it doesn’t matter what the sex or gender the other person might be, it is about a deep and real connection between two people.

This newest generation of young adults can teach us a lot about acceptance beyond the halls of high school.

What if we approached the workplace as a place to make a real human connection? What if leaders knew their job of leading is to see people for who they are, find the beauty in their talents, and make that beauty shine? What if we cared for those we work with in a way that was about loving them for who they are, helping them grow in ways they want to grow, and made them feel stronger and more confident as they navigate the workplace and their career?

This describes a model of leading that I can get behind. It is rooted in a deeply human connection I know to be impactful thanks to a teenage love story.

And so, this June, as we mark Pride month, I am more humbled than ever as to what I still need to learn. Happy Pride and keep learning.

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