Charterhouse Celebrates LGBT+ History Month

Mr Jones explains the origins of LGBT+ History Month and what the School is doing to mark this month-long celebration.

What is LGBT+ History Month and why is it celebrated?

LGBT+ History Month is an annual celebration that, in the UK, takes place every February. It is a separate event to Pride Month typically observed in June, marking the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and has a long connection to the education sector with a particular relevance to schools and universities which I will outline in what follows.

LGBT+ History Month was founded by the educational charity, Schools OUT UK, and its first major observation occurred in February 2005. It was in part designed to change the conversation about homosexuality and gender identity following the formal abolition of Section 28 in 2003, a piece of legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1988 which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities. In an educational context, this act effectively silenced discussion of LGBT+ lifestyles and communities, prevented the teaching of LGBT+ relationships and sex education, and forced a generation of LGBT+ educators into hiding out of concerns for their employment.

Despite the formal repeal of Section 28 in 2003, the law continued to cast a shadow on the uncensored discussion of LGBT+ culture and issues in places of education, long after it was removed. In 2014, Stonewall conducted a survey of primary and secondary teachers, and found that eleven years after the repeal of Section 28, 37% of primary school teachers and 29% of secondary school teachers did not know whether they could discuss LGBT+ subject matter in lessons.

LGBT+ History Month is, therefore, primarily an educational celebration, seeking to mark the changed culture surrounding the discussion of LGBT+ issues and culture in society, whilst attempting to address some of the historical gaps in young people’s awareness of the LGBT+ community and its history given the two-decade silence on these matters.

What is Charterhouse doing to celebrate LGBT+ History Month?

Charterhouse is marking LGBT+ History Month through a range of whole-school initiatives in the same spirit with which it would celebrate other equality, diversity, and inclusion celebrations, including Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

Pride Flag and Prince's Avenue Lights 

To mark LGBT+ History Month, Charterhouse will join other institutions across the country by flying the Pride flag on Monday 28 February from the flagpole on Big Ground.

The particular flag that will be flown is known as the Progress Pride flag, an adaptation of the iconic rainbow flag from 1978 by incorporating subsequent flags for more specific identities, including the transgender pride flag and black and brown stripes to represent people of colour. You can read about the fascinating history of the flag in this article from the V&A Museum.

Additionally, on Monday 28 February, the lights on either side of Prince’s Avenue will be illuminated in Pride colours for one day to mark its commitment to promoting an inclusive culture irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Posters in Scholars Court 

Throughout the month of February, posters recognising significant LGBT+ individuals throughout history will be placed within the glass cabinets surrounding Scholar’s Court. These posters will be a mix of quotations from famous and lesser-known LGBT+ individuals, as well as graphics linked explicitly to the curriculum, recognising significant historical LGBT+ individuals and their contributions to various subject disciplines offered at Charterhouse.

Curriculum-related posters will be printed off and placed in the pigeonholes of Heads of Department, for them to decorate their departments and classrooms as they see fit.

Library Exhibition 

The Library team have designed an exhibition of LGBT+ titles which are currently held on the shelves, with the support of Year 12 pupil, Ciarán. There are a range of titles on display, from a variety of disciplines including History, Art, Literature, Sports, Maths, and broader titles on the history of the Pride movement. Many thanks to the Library and Mrs Pritchard for organising this.

And lots more...

  • 10 staff tickets are available for a webinar entitled ‘History/Herstory/Theirstory and LGBT+ rights’ on on Tuesday 8 February 1300-1400 from Inclusive Employers. It explores LGBT+ rights and the pioneers within the community who have helped change the world. Attendees will learn about the impact they have had and what more there is to be done to progress LGBT+ rights. Please contact Mrs Wilson and/or Mrs Schreuder if interested.

  • Progress Pride pins will be available to staff from Brooke Hall and Reception.

  • There are a myriad of fantastic resources available online relating to LGBT+ History Month and its various intersections with school curricula. I have included a few links below of materials which may be helpful to both subject teachers and teachers of Reach Out.