In the UK, February marks the month of LGBT+ History Month. It is important to mark this history month because LGBT+ people haven't always been accepted or included in the way that they are today. It was started in 1994 by a high-school history teacher from Missouri — Rodney Wilson. Now, nearly 30 years later, the celebration can be seen in countries all around the world.
The month was initiated in the U.K. in February 2005 by Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick, the co-chairs of Schools OUT U.K. Its primary focus was to teach young people about the gay rights movement and work towards putting a stop to homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. To learn to embrace lesbian, gay and bisexual young people as valued, included and visible, simply part of the rich diversity of any (school) community, with more freedom than ever to explore this element of who they are. Over the last few decades, we have seen a steady increase in social acceptance of lesbian, gay and bi relationships, and a steady increase in the percentage of the population who identify as lesbian, gay, bi or trans.
LGBT+ History Month gives us a great opportunity to engage with all too often hidden LGBT+ histories by providing positive education about lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans lives. Most people might see same-sex relationships as a normal part of life now, but it wasn't always this way and being gay in the UK was once illegal. Even after it was decriminalised (which means to no longer be illegal), gay people faced a lot of discrimination and found it very difficult to talk openly about their sexuality because of fear of what people might say or think.
One law which affected the LGBT+ community was called Section 28. 2023 marks the 20 year anniversary since Section 28 law that banned “promotion of homosexuality” in the UK, was repealed (no longer a law). A specific section of the law banned places like schools and libraries from "promoting homosexuality". This meant that school teachers were effectively banned from talking or educating people about homosexuality. The law was unclear about what "promoting" gay relationships meant, so many teachers were scared to talk about homosexuality, even to help their students, in case they were breaking the law. It meant that children and young people who grew up in the 90’s didn’t hear/see or learn about same sex relationships from books or within their school environment.
After years of campaigning, in June 2000 in Scotland and in 2003 in England and Wales Section 28 Law was stopped. This meant that teachers were finally able to include LGBT+ figures or topics in the curriculum or provide learning and emotional support within schools.
This year's theme for LGBT+ History month is called ‘Behind the Lens’. It is about raising awareness around the brave and revolutionary contribution LGBT+ people have made toward the world of film. The collaborative efforts of film allow the opportunity to appreciate LGBTQ writers, artists, designers and musicians.
You can visit the LGBT+ History Month website and view the LGBT+ events being held throughout the month via the events calendar. The Proud Trust have also compiled an accessible and educational resource and education pack on this year’s ‘Behind the Lens.