The co-chair of School Out UK Sue Sanders has said she is “thrilled” to see how celebrating LGBT+ History Month has grown across the country.
School Out UK is a group working for the equality of LGBT+ people in the education system, responsible for instituting UK’s first LGBT+ History Month.
LGBT+ History Month is a month-long annual event in February celebrating the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and non-binary people, including the history of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements.
The event itself is intended to encourage honesty and openness about being LBTG, to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against, LGBT+ people.
Sanders said: “We are thrilled to see how celebrating LGBT+ History Month has grown.
“It is crucial that we work to dispel all forms of discrimination in our schools and educate out prejudice.
“We therefore remind schools that LGBT+ people come from all communities and encourage schools to include LGBT+ examples when celebrating other history months like Women’s, Gypsy and Traveller, Black, South Asian and Disabled History Months.”
The month is celebrated across the UK in museums, libraries, art galleries, theatres,, faith spaces workplaces, institutions and schools.
School Out UK’s first LGBT+ Month took place in February 2005.
This year also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the very first Pride March in the UK in 1972 following the Stonewall Riots in New York City, often considered the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Sanders said: “We choose ‘Politics In Art: ‘The Arc Is Long’ as this year’s topic, which is in congruence with the popular slogan of the early gay rights movement ‘the personal is political’.”
Sanders said: “In the lead up to the month, we spoke with teachers, unions and took part in educational podcasts such as ‘Pride in Progress’.
“Throughout the month we have supported schools providing presentations in assemblies, lunch time clubs and lessons. We have been able to increase our reach using Teams and Zoom. The engagement from students and teachers has been exceptional,” Sanders said.
Schools Out UK used social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to explain the artwork of activist artists, such at Keith Hearing, Alice Oseman, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fiore de Henriquez and Mark Aguhar, that have faced racial or gender discrimination.
Schools Out UK also created The Classroom website which offers over 80 lesson plans and activities, ‘usualise’ LGBT+ issues across the curriculum and for all ages that can be embedded into lessons throughout the year.
“We promote the use of the word ‘usualise’ as we feel that ‘normalise’ has highly problematic connotations and wanted a neutral word,” Sanders said.
“We encourage schools include all their staff teaching and non-teaching, governors and parent helpers in diversity and inclusion training so that everyone can be part of creating and inclusive schools culture.”
LGBT+ History Month at Kingston University
Kingston University LGBTQ+ Staff Network also celebrated LGBT+ History Month. Events throughout February encouraged students and staff to think of the achievements and strides that the LGBT+ community have made through the years, as well as to reflect on the work at KU and the Union to make progress in achieving equality.
LGBT+ Community group officer Shane Simpkin said: “LGBT+ History Month is a reminder that we would not be able to what we do now if it wasn’t because of those who paved the way before us. This month is to spotlight and celebrate our journeys, lives and to remember those who have been lost.
“We can use this time to open the doors for discussion, learning and kindness like we would all year round. Campaigning and the. tireless work of queers activist does not stop until we achieve our goals.”
KU closed LGBT+ History Month by celebrating Rainbow Laces Campaign Day on February 23 in partnership with Stonewall, aiming to raise awareness around homophobia, transphobia and inclusivity in sport.
Students can still grab their a pair of rainbow laces from the Union of Kingston Students Office.
Tamara Reid, programme lead of the inclusive curriculum consultant, said: “My advice to anyone who feels like they don’t fit within the normal LGBT+ spaces is that there are spaces for you and people who look like you and that they are experiencing the same thing as you.
“Find those spaces, those spaces that makes you feel home and allow you to find validated, affirmed, loved and inspired.”
UK LGBT+ History Month is celebrated every February.