LGBT+ History Month
by Shane Foster
Reading time approx: 7 mins
LGBT+ history month takes place each year in February and is a celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) history. It is also a chance to reflect on the history of gay rights and the related civil rights movements.
Here in the UK, it is an observance of the abolition of Section 28 laws in 2003, which previously prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities. 2003 also saw the introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations which prohibited employers unreasonably discriminating against employees on the grounds of sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, religion or belief and age. These regulations were then superseded by an Act of Parliament in 2010 when the Equality Act became legislation.
LGBT+ history month was started in the UK in February 2005 by Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick who were then co-chairs of the LGBT+ education charity ‘Schools OUT UK’.
Who are Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick?
Sue Sanders is an "out and proud" lesbian and a British LGBT rights activist, who has specialized in challenging oppression in the public and voluntary sectors for over forty years. In 2014 she was short-listed for the lifetime achievement award in the National Diversity Awards, and in 2019 Sue was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the rainbow honours board.
Paul Patrick was an English teacher and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activist. He was openly gay and focused on homophobia in the public and voluntary sectors, particularly in the education system. He co-founded the Gay Teachers' Group in 1974 and in 2002 he co-founded Schools OUT UK with Sue. Paul died in 2008 after a long battle with a chronic lung condition.
What is Schools OUT UK?
Schools OUT UK is an education charity that began life as The Gay Teachers Association in 1974. Their overarching goal is to make schools and educational institutions safe spaces for LGBT communities such as teachers, lecturers and trainers; pupils and students; parents; teaching and learning support staff; site-officers, catering and cleaning staff; and headteachers, managers and governors. There is no other organisation that supports such a wide community in attaining such a wide, yet simple overarching goal.
LGBT+ History Month and Pride
As well as LGBT+ history month being a chance to shed new light on the history of LGBT people in the UK, this celebration has also been long associated with Pride. Indeed here in the UK we are looking forward to Pride 50 this year, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first UK Pride event taking place. So this year is the perfect opportunity for us to explore the history of some of those often overlooked identities, and showing how we are always stronger, better and prouder together – one united LGBT+ community.
Why is LGBT+ History Month Important?
There are many reasons why LGBT+ history month is important. From schools to businesses, national to global politics, each sector benefits differently from the annual event. Here are some of the reasons why LGBT+ history month is so important:
- Remembering those across the world who live without rights
- Learning about historic LGBTQ+ figures and events
- Encouraging inclusivity and understanding in the workplace
- Remembering how far we have come in the fight for equality
- Building a better world for young LGBTQ+ professionals.
We all have the same Human Rights
It is important to remember that as human beings we all have the same rights, however for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people worldwide, being open and out means dealing with discrimination, harassment, or worse. In fact around 60 countries across the globe still have laws that effectively criminalize homosexuality, and approximately 350 transgender people were murdered across the world in 2020. This in itself means that globally around 83% of LGBTQ people still hide their sexual orientation, which is a sad reflection on society in general.
Stand Together for LGBT+ History Month
We must stand together as one united community to push forward and make people recognise that we have the same human rights as anyone else, and this is why in 2022 it is more important than ever to observe and celebrate LGBT+ history month.