What Does this Month Mean?
February is the month designated to the LGBT+ community to understand their history. It was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson to provide role models, information, awareness and build a community. It came to the UK 11 years later in 2005 when educators and activists Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick organised LGBT+ History Month as part of a Schools Out UK project. This was their programmed aimed to educate young people about the issue’s members of the LGBT+ community face and to make schools feel inclusive for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
The month now strives to raise awareness and combat prejudice against the LGBT+ community that they are still facing. It is also important to celebrate the achievements and diversity that have been becoming more and move visible.
A Brief Historical Overview
The Sexual Offences Act 1967 partially legalised same-sex acts in the UK for men over the age of 21. This represented the first steppingstone, but there was still a long way to go.
The Gay Liberation Front was founded in the UK in 1970 after the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. They organised the first pride march in 1972 which is now the annual event.
1970 Corbett v Corbett legal case creates precedent that a person cannot legally change their gender from that which they were assigned at birth.
Section 28 under Margaret Thatcher in 1988 was introduced to ban local authorities promoting homosexuality, providing educational material, or giving people the support they needed, especially children. It wasn’t repealed until 2003 and David Cameron apologised for this in 2009.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 allowed same-sex couples to legally enter into binding partnerships, similar to marriages, but not a marriage. It wasn’t until 2013 with the Marriage Act that allowed same-sex couples to marry legally.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 gave trans people full legal recognition of their gender and the chance to have a new birth certificate.
2010 Equality Act protected the LGBT+ community from discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the workplace.
The LGBT+ community continues to fight for equality and social acceptance.
Diversity and Inclusion Festival at The University of Reading
Celebrating events like Pride, Trans Day of Visibility and LGBT+ month can be powerful ways to show inclusion. It allows universities, and even companies, a chance to highlight role models in business industries and it sends a clear message of diversity and inclusion.
Later today (10th February) the University is hosting a virtual event in collaboration with some well-known employers to talk about diversity and inclusion. There will be talks from employers like PwC, Austin Fraser and EY throughout the afternoon. It is your chance to hear from the organisations yourself on how they all ensure their working environment is inclusive, and how they go about this. Book onto it through MyJobsOnline.
The University of Reading has a student led LGBT+ society. Membership is free for students at the University and they hold lots of social events, from bingo to nights out in town. If you’re interested in joining or want to know more check out their RUSU page of Facebook page.
The library also offers a LGBT+ library resource guide if you’re looking to learn more. Some fiction book suggestions to start with are Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (he writes about a young man who finds himself caught between desire and morality in 1950s Paris), City of Night by John Rechy (he writes about the underground world of gay hustlers, drag queens and sex workers) or Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (who writes about a transgender boy that is born a girl but is then born again in the emergency room as a teenage boy). All these books are found in the library!
There is a new show that is widely becoming on the most popular shows of 2021 called It’s A Sin on Channel 4. It is set between 1981-1991 in London, depicting the lives of a group of gay men and their friends who are living during the HIV/AIDS crisis. The show has been admired for its emotional scenes, writing and depiction of the lives of people living during the crisis. It has been met with hugely positive reviews and has been watched nearly 6.5 million times. For anyone wanting an insight or information, it is a great source to go too.
The annual Stonewall Workplace Equality Index ranks employers in the UK based on how they treat their LGBT+ staff. The poll has been running for nearly 16 years and these are the top 10 most inclusive employers for 2020:
- Newcastle City Council
- Gentoo Group
- Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Pinsent Masons
- Ministry of Justice
- National Assemble for Wales
- Welsh Government
- Cardiff University