LGBT History Month is the celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender history, as well as how it has changed over time. It began in the US in February 1994 and, since then, has been a month-long yearly occurrence. It is celebrated by the UK (in February to coincide with a major celebration of abolition of Section 28); Australia, Canada and the US (in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on 11 October), and Berlin (in June and is known as ‘Queer History Month’).
It first took place in the UK in 2005, after being initiated by the charity Schools Out UK. LGBT charities and organisations, as well as educational establishments, hold events to celebrate LGBT History Month and to raise awareness of it. They may even decide to add a rainbow flag to their social media profile picture.
Section 28, a law passed by a Conservative government in 1988, prevented schools and councils from promoting the teaching of LGBT acceptability. It resulted in mass protests by LGBT campaigners.
LGBT History Month aims to teach people about the gay and civil rights movement, which advocates equal rights for the LGBT community. It also seeks to eliminate laws which bars homosexual acts between consenting adults and end any form of discrimination against those who are LGBT. The overarching aim is to promote an inclusive, modern society.
A long time ago, being LGBT was frowned upon and was punishable everywhere in the world. Now, most countries accept the LGBT community and welcome same-sex marriage, as well as civil partnerships. Alongside this, terminology has changed too. ‘Gay’ once meant’ bright’ and ‘joyful’; now it’s a homosexual category for both men and women. ‘That’s so gay’ meant ‘that’s lame/boring’; now, it’s a homophobic slur that should be avoided. ‘Queer’ once meant ‘strange’, but now some people identify as being Queer as opposed to being heterosexual [straight] and it’s incorporated within the LGBT community (sometimes referred to as LGBTQ or LGBT+ community).
Over the years, people have become more accepting of the LGBT community and it has become part of society. While it’s still illegal to be part of the community in some countries and can be punishable by either imprisonment or death if someone discloses that they are part of the LGBT community, society has come a long way and is constantly improving.
While I was at school, my knowledge of the LGBT community was lacking. I didn’t experience LGBT education and, as someone who is part of the community, had to look up what it was. Had I known what ‘transgender’ was when I was at school, my life would be completely different to what it is now. I felt like I had to hide my gender identity while I was at school as I was too scared to tell anyone in case I was excluded.
Last year, it was made a requirement for schools to incorporate the LGBT community into their curriculum. The education would be age-appropriate and will expose students to the different aspects of the wider community, rather than black-and-white education of parents who are cisgender and heterosexual.
Life’s not black-and-white; it’s a rainbow that will always be there.