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GLSEN on Start of LGBT History Month
Media Relations Manager
NEW YORK (October 1, 2015) – GLSEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, issued the following statement acknowledging the start of LGBT History Month recognized every October. Started in 1994 by high school history teacher, Rodney Wilson, with support from GLSEN, the Gerber/Hart Library and Archive and other educators, LGBT History Month is an opportunity for educators to teach students about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, history and events, which plays a significant role in creating positive school climates for LGBT students.
"Each year, LGBT History Month provides an opportunity to lift up the historical experience and impact of LGBT people and communities, and ensure our visibility in the shared narratives of our past. GLSEN helped to create the event in 1994, and convened an inaugural conference on LGBT history that fall, determined to allow LGBT youth and their peers access to a rich legacy of historical understanding often erased or ignored.
“As LGBT History Month begins today, it is astounding to see how much progress has been made. In recent years, individuals like Bayard Rustin and Harvey Milk have been celebrated officially as American heroes, and stories of LGBT lives and movements of the past are becoming more common in our culture.
“Very little of this has yet made it into the classroom, where it will have the most important impact on students' understanding of our shared past. GLSEN's most recent National School Climate Survey showed less than a third of LGBT students were taught about LGBT people, history or events and nearly half of those were negative representations. Educators everywhere can take an important step forward by continuing this exploration of the reality of our past in their classrooms, this month and throughout the year."
The latest edition of GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey found that LGBT students in schools with an LGBT-inclusive curriculum were less likely to hear anti-LGBT language and feel unsafe and more likely to report that their classmates were accepting of LGBT people. More than half of the only 19 percent of LGBT students who were taught positive representations about LGBT people, history or events said it was in history or social studies class, the most common subject in which LGBT-related topics were taught.
GLSEN provides educator resources on LGBT History Month, including a timeline of events in LGBT history; an oral history curriculum project highlighting the stories of nine important people in LGBT history; a resource to help high school educators support LGBT students and implement LGBT-inclusive curriculum while meeting reading and writing standards; and videos from the Pye-Harris Project detailing the experiences of LGBT people coming out during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Celebrating its 25th year, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.