When you think of February the mind automatically jumps to Valentine’s Day, but there’s another extremely important event taking place right now. It’s LGBT+ History Month and it’s time to show it a little love.
This annual celebration provides education and insight into the issues faced by the LGBT+ community, teaching young people about the history of the gay rights movement and promoting an inclusive modern society.
While LGBT+ History Month originated in the US in 1994, in the UK it began 11 years later following on from an initiative that was created by two teachers, Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick, who organised a programme that aimed to make schools feel inclusive for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The event was held in February to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act.
Section 28, a piece of legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, stated that local authorities were not allowed to "intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality".
Following the success of the original event, LGBT+ History Month is now marked every February by schools, colleges and various organisations across the country, seeking to increase young people's awareness of the LGBT+ community through education.
While LGBT+ rights have come a long way in the last few decades, LGBT+ history is often erased or overlooked. The pandemic has doubtlessly made life even more difficult for the LGBT+ community so it more important than ever to highlight the history and celebrate the lesbian, gay, bi and trans people who have made incredible contributions across society.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ and that will help shape much of the content delivered to young people.
New regulations for teaching relationships and sex education in England, rolled out in 2019, mean that secondary schools now teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools teach about different family groups, which of course includes LGBT+ families.
However, despite this, a nationwide YouGov poll of more than 1,000 teachers working in UK primary or secondary schools found that LGBT+ bullying is the most prevalent type of bullying in schools, with the research showing it was more common than incidents relating to racism, sexism or religion.
Clearly, more needs to be done and schools and colleges must play their part in helping to educate future generations until every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person is free to be themselves.