What is LGBT+ History Month and why do we celebrate it?
As many of you will know February is the UK’s LGBT+ History Month. We’ve already had two events to celebrate, kicking off with the fantastic Glitterbomb at the beginning of the month. This year’s theme is Law and Citizenship and to explore this our LGBT+ officer, has put together an excellent timeline examining the changes in laws surrounding LGBT+ rights, you can find this display on the blue wall next to the stairs in the Students Union building. Our next event is the sequel to October’s runaway success “Big Gay Quiz’, appropriately named The Big Gay Quiz Part 2. It’s taking place this Tuesday (21st Feb) at 7.30pm in Cafe Mondial, you could win a pretty snazzy prize so get a team together and come along.
Why is it important to celebrate LGBT+ History Month?
“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.” (George Takei)
LGBT+ History Month was first celebrated in the UK in 2005 to mark the 2003 abolition of Section 28 which had previously banned any local authorities from intentionally promoting homosexuality. The purpose of the month is to promote diversity and equality by increasing the visibility of LGBT+ people and their history, particularly within places of learning. According to the ‘The School Report’ study of 2012, 50% of LGBT+ students had never heard gay or trans people and history discussed in the classroom (Stonewall). By celebrating and marking LGBT+ History Month we can help raise important issues surrounding LGBT+ rights as well as celebrate the great contribution LGBT+ people have made to society and history.
Sue Sanders was born in 1947, she studied drama at Middlesex University and began teaching in schools and universities, focusing particularly on women’s studies and tackling homophobia in schools. From the 1980’s she became a member of various LGBT+ rights groups including the National Union of Teachers LGBT working group and the LGBT Advisory Committee for the Metropolitan Police. In 2000 she started working for ‘Schools Out’ a group working to combat homophobia within schools, it was during this role that she helped found LGBT+ History Month. From there she developed a website which helps teachers create lesson plans that ‘normalise and actualise’ LGBT+ issues whilst teaching. In 2015 she became an emeritus professor at the Harvey Milk Institute.
Why is LGBT+ History Month important to you?
We asked LGBT+ Students’ Officer, Nikki, why marking LGBT+ History Month is important to her.
“LGBT History Month is extremely important historically, it indicates a celebration of pride in your sexual orientation and gender. On campus, we see LGBT students dropping out of higher education due to lack of support, thus it is important now more than ever that we show pride on campus, and stand in solidarity with LGBT students and staff.” (Nikki Ray, RUSU LGBT+ Officer 2016/17)