“Feeling especially different and being rejected or labelled ‘not normal’ is hard to deal with, and if we allow children to suffer in their formative years then the damage can last throughout adulthood.”
February marks the 10th anniversary of LGBT History Month, with schools and teachers across the country being urged to take part.
The above quote is from a blog by former teacher and founder of the OutTeacher.org website David Weston marking the anniversary.
The blog, published by the National Association of Head Teachers on Monday (February 2), says the month is an opportunity for schools to “celebrate diversity and raise awareness of anyone who feels less accepted than many of their peers”.
Mr Weston writes: “It’s a scandal that young LGBT people have higher levels of mental health issues and high incidence of self-harm than their peers.
“LGBT History Month is an opportunity to consider how there are common stereotypes about what girls and boys are like, and how many people don’t identify with these rigid ‘norms’. It’s an opportunity to start discussions about how diverse we all are and yet what pressure we all feel under to conform.”
Mr Weston suggests that teachers can examine the lives of famous historical figures such as computer scientist Alan Turing, writer Gertrude Stein, diplomat Chevalier d’Éon, and singer Billie Holliday.
He continued: “These figures clearly identified themselves as different and achieved great things, even if others around them were not always accepting. These people have amazing stories behind them and they help us think of LGBT people as part of the great diversity of mankind rather than seeing ‘LGBT’ as a label for a particular type of oppression.”
Schools and teachers can access a range of resources to support work around LGBT for both primary and secondary, including from the official History Month website, and organisations including Stonewall, Schools Out, and Educate and Celebrate.
As well as marking the event’s 10th anniversary, this year’s LGBT History Month is the first to take place after the passing of a law allowing same-sex couples to marry in England, Wales and Scotland.
Mr Weston continued: “The march of equality throughout the last decade has been truly astonishing to watch, although this is balanced by a horror of the increasing persecution that many LGBT individuals suffer at the hands of states around the world.
“It is clear to me that the 21st century is going to see further progress in this area although the struggles and sacrifice that many will make will be acknowledged and celebrated by future generations. For now, February is an opportunity for schools to acknowledge how far we’ve come as a civilisation, and how much we owe to those who were, publicly or privately, different to the stereotypes.”
Further information Photo: iStock