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Celebrating LGBT History Month 2023

Discover the importance of LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK, why it’s so important, and how it’s tied to diversity and inclusion in education.

Celebrating Lgbt History Month

In the UK, we celebrate are celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month this February. The annual month-long celebration aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ people and history, particularly among young people. But what makes this such an important occasion? What are the origins behind it LGBTQ+ history month? Here, we’ll explore the story behind LGBTQ+ History Month and discuss what it means today. 

We’ll also explore the connections between LGBTQ+ History Month and issues of diversity and inclusion within the education space. As you’ll see, despite a lot of progress, we are still faced with many challenges that we can start to address together. 

Exploring LGBTQ+ History Month

Let’s begin by looking at LGBTQ+ History Month itself. Taking place during February in both Hungary and the UK, LGBTQ+ history month is a month-long celebration. 

While still observed in other countries, it typically takes place later in the year. In the US, Canada, and Australia, LGBTQ+ history month is actually celebrated in October.

While some people may confuse LGBTQ+ for pride month, these two are actually separate events. Pride month takes place in June, but is similar in that it gives us another opportunity to celebrate all things LGBTQ+.

Let’s take a look at how LGBTQ+ came to be and what makes it so important. 

What is LGBTQ+ History Month?

The annual event was created to drive crucial awareness of many issues that members of the LGBTQ+ community face. It works as a way to promote inclusivity while teaching young people about the history and importance of LGBTQ+ people. 

LGBTQ+ month was founded in 2004, and is allocated a unique theme for each year to tie into the celebrations. This year’s theme is “#BehindTheLens”, paying homage to LGBTQ+ influence and contribution to film.

In the UK, the celebration is organised by Schools OUT UK – The LGBTQ+ Education Charity. Their main goal is to promote equality and diversity for the benefit of the public. As well as working to raise awareness, they also aim to ensure that educational institutions are safe spaces for those in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Why is LGBTQ+ history month in February? 

LGBTQ+ history month takes place in February as it marked the month in 2003 when Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act was abolished. This act prevented local authorities from ‘intentionally promoting homosexuality or publishing material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.’ 

Why is LGBTQ+ History Month important?

LGBTQ+ History Month celebrates important lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and non-binary history. As well as providing role models and support for young people, it also helps draw attention to the history of the civil rights movements of the LGBTQ+ community. Positive representation is important, especially for developing individuals, as it can improve self esteem and provide validation. 

This month is also the time to remember those people around the world without rights, as well as to recognise the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community to gain rights. By raising awareness of the often hidden or erased history of LGBTQ+ people, we can give young people a chance to learn about people that share their identity. 

Diversity and inclusion in education

A key element of LGBTQ+ History Month is the celebration and promotion of diversity and inclusion in education. This strive for an inclusive learning environment means that students and individuals are treated fairly and equally, regardless of their race, gender, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation. 

Data has shown that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience bullying than cisgender individuals. While strides have been made in LGBTQ+ acceptance and awareness, we still have a long way to go in terms of creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people. 

A report from Stonewall school even stated discrimination and general lack of support for LGBTQ+ students impacts their ability to complete studies. To ensure that students are flourishing and receiving the support they need, we need to promote awareness and inclusivity in educational settings with events like LGBTQ+ history month.

To learn how best to encourage positive mental health in young people, check out our Young People and Mental Health course. 

Events such as LGBTQ+ History Month help to promote LGBTQ+ inclusive teaching and education. They give young LGBTQ+ people and those with LGBTQ+ families the chance to see themselves reflected in what they learn, which is crucial. Additionally, it encourages an inclusive and accepting attitude from all students. 

There have been positive changes as a result of such campaigning. In April 2019, for example, the UK government took an incredible step and announced that pupils in schools in England must learn about sexual orientation and gender identity. What’s more, all primary schools must teach about different types of families, including LGBTQ+ families.

FutureLearn’s commitment to inclusivity

As the Stonewall report and other research have highlighted, more needs to be done to make education inclusive. A 2018 report from the UK government found that, on the whole, LGBTQ+ students do not feel their needs are addressed. This is felt particularly strongly in areas of sex and relationships education. 

LGBTQ+ History Month continues to raise awareness and promote an inclusive approach to education. At FutureLearn, this is a sentiment we’re very much behind. Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our policies, meaning we have zero tolerance to exclusion, and we have taken drastic internal measures to enforce it. There are no nuances; zero is zero. 

Using the internal speak up channel, our colleagues feel that they can raise issues without the risk of retaliation and that there is a due follow up process. We also have appointed a volunteer Diversity and Inclusion champion amongst staff, acting as another impartial route for conversation. This is an expansion on our existing champion programme, which has helped to support colleagues through mental health issues, bereavement, and domestic abuse.

We also have a diverse range of courses and learning opportunities on our platform that promote diversity and awareness. Whether it’s through exploring inclusion in education or the history of sex and gender, we’re proud to support LGBTQ+ History Month and the LGBTQ+ community. Some other great courses to celebrate LGBTQ+ history month include: 

Final thoughts

This month, it’s important to take the time to celebrate LGBTQ+ history and promote inclusive practices where we can. Educational spaces still have a way to go in creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ individuals, but we’re happy to see improvements in this space where possible. 

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