UK LGBT+ History Month
Across the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people celebrate during Pride. Yet, none of this would have been possible without the effort and dedication put forth by LGBT+ activists. It is important to remember and honor those pioneers. The United Kingdom remembers these individuals by participating in a month-long celebration called LGBT History Month. Throughout February, “LGBT History Month aims to promote tolerance and raise awareness of the prejudices faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”
What sets LGBT History Month apart from LGBT Pride is what is being celebrated. During LGBT History Month, people gather to share resources about LGBT topics as well as remember those who made an impact in the community. According to the University and College Union website, “in the United Kingdom it is celebrated in February each year, to coincide with the 2003 abolition of Section 28. LGBT+ History Month was initiated in the UK by Schools Out UK and first took place in February 2005. The event is intended to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against, LGBT people and history.” For those unfamiliar, Section 28 was a clause passed in 1988 that prohibited “promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material”
Unfortunately, in that year, bullying and harassment towards LGBT+ people was at an all-time high not only because of Section 28, but also because people in this community were not accepted as a whole. Children, teens, and even adults were facing hatred from unaccepting individuals. Thankfully, members of the LGBT+ community and their allies came together and held massive protests against Section 28. One notable activist was Booan Temple who was part of an all-women team that interrupted a live BBC News studio broadcast. Temple and three other women repeatedly yelled “Stop Section 28” when they made their surprise appearance and this gathered a lot of attention from the public.
Although this appearance was monumental, it still took a long time for Section 28 to be abolished. Scotland repealed the clause on June 21st, 2001 and then the rest of the UK on September 18th, 2003. Since this clause created a bunch of disagreement and hate, there was a glimmer of hope for LGBT+ people living in the UK now that it had been taken away. LGBT+ people felt more comfortable being themselves, students felt safer in classrooms, and teachers could teach without fear of getting in trouble. In fact, according to independent.co.uk, “the number of LGBT+ teachers rose from 5 percent to 9 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to new data from Teach First, with many motivated in their choice of career explicitly because of their own experiences as children being unable to address their sexuality in the classroom.”
Fast-forward to today and we can see why it is important to dedicate an entire month to celebrating LGBT+ history in the UK. Without pioneers like Temple or teachers willing to create a more inclusive space, we might not be where we are today. To say that everything is perfect now would be a false statement, but we can take notes from past activists and create a better future for LGBT+ people.