LGBT History Month was created in 2005 by Sue Sanders and Schools Out in the United Kingdom and it takes place each February. The USA has had LGBT History Month since 1994 and was created by school teacher Rodney Wilson and it takes place in October in the USA.
It promotes teaching and learning about famous and influential role models who may be identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered. Pupils are able to learn about historical figures such as Alan Turing – famous mathematician and World War II code breaker or Florence Nightingale, nursing pioneer and social reformer.
It allows pupils to learn about successful LGBT people who have made a difference in society. These role models act as a starting point to promote equality and diversity in the school environment. It aims to reduce homophobia, biphobia and transphobia as pupils are educated about these positive role models who have made a difference to the society in which we live. It also allows pupils who are LGBT to have access to their own history and heritage. LGBT pupils can learn about influential figures that are part of their culture and part of their own identity.
So why am I writing this in March?
Well my argument is that LGBT History Month must be every day of each month. On a daily basis young people should be learning about LGBT influential figures and role models. All young people regardless of their sexual orientation should learn about LGBT history to gain a greater understanding of an oppression, a fight and a liberation that has taken place throughout history and is still taking place today. We learn about Martin Luther King and the Black Civil Rights Movement and Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette Movement in the classroom but where’s the LGBT rights movement on the Curriculum? Where are the Stonewall Riots? Where’s the Gay Liberation Front? Where’s Clause 28? Where’s Peter Tatchell? Where’s the decriminalisation of homosexuality?
A large piece of rights history is still missing from the school curriculum because schools still live in the shadows of Clause 28. It’s only 10 years since this was repealed and yet we still haven’t got it right. Education is still not teaching sex and relationships education effectively and schools still aren’t including enough LGBT role models and historical figures in their teaching and learning on a daily basis to educate pupils about equality and diversity. Schools are failing to meet the needs of 6 – 10% of their student population as the LGBT population in the UK is estimated within this figure. Some schools are doing a great job but most still have a long way to go.
So why do it?
Research has shown that LGBT pupils experience more homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying on a daily basis compared to their heterosexual counterparts. LGBT pupils experience higher rates of mental health issues, suicide ideation and depression compared to their heterosexual peers because of homophobic bullying, internalised homophobia and importantly the failure of their schools and the education system to meet their social and emotional needs.
So let’s make LGBT History Month, every day of each month so that LGBT young people can have a better educational experience with a greater sense of wellbeing, happiness and enjoyment in their education and learning. All students must leave school with an accurate understanding of LGBT history with a deeper understanding of the oppression, discrimination and liberation that has taken place over hundreds of years and will take place in the years to come.
Schools Development, Birmingham LGBT