The Importance of LGBTQ+ History Month
Straight and cisgender history is taught in every classroom across the country and that leaves so many people’s stories ignored or silenced. Queer history teachers are teaching a history that doesn’t represent them. While more teachers are now comfortable being openly LGBTQ+ in schools, the syllabus has not largely changed to reflect this. This means students are often left to advocate for themselves to create pride clubs and this often happens only if there are supportive LGBTQ+ staff or dedicated allies. It is important for LGBT+ people to see themselves reflected in history and for our allies to see people who are different from them, so that heterosexual, cisgendered experiences can be de-centred.
From not reporting on gender variance or sexuality of important historic figures or inventors, for example Florence Nightingale, was believed to be a lesbian, to a complete eradication of queer history from textbooks; LGBTQ+ people have never been widely celebrated. This leaves LGBTQ+ people lacking the knowledge of our rich queer history and the rights that those that came before fought for. If we do not know this history, we are not aware of the resistance that was essential for us to be able to exist as we do today and we have less belief in our own power to push towards the changes we need to see.
In addition, there are still many without those rights that we need to recognise. According to Human Dignity Trust, there are 71 jurisdictions that criminalise private and same-sex sexual activity specifically between men, 43 that specify women, 11 jurisdictions where the death penalty is imposed and 15 where gender identities/expressions of trans people are criminalised. LGBTQ+ history month gives us pause to reflect on those who are still fighting for their rights to live freely.
In 2021, the murder of trans people rose to 375. Among those, 96% of those murdered globally were trans women or trans feminine people, most were Black and migrant trans women of colour and trans sex workers. Many of the people who paved the way in resistance, such as in the infamous Stonewall Uprising, were Black and Brown trans feminine people and lesbians and these are the people still most in danger of homophobic and transphobic violence. It is incredibly important to recognise that those who are often the most marginalised even within the LGBTQ+ community have always been at the forefront of pushing for systemic changes to improve the lives of all queer people. When considering these statistics, it is crucial to acknowledge the impact of colonialism on eradicating queer and non-conforming identities, where previously such identities might have been celebrated, colonialism overwrote this history, banishing the existence of non-normative identities.
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