Find out more about LGBT+ History Month and ways you can get involved in our upcoming events.
CW: Homophobia, LGBT+ Discrimination, Mental Health, Suicide, Family Rejection
February is LGBT+ History Month - an annual observance of the history of the LGBT+ community, LGBT+ rights, and related civil rights movements. The LGBT+ community have faced oppression and discrimination for centuries. LGBT+ rights have progressed considerably in the last 100 years, although this has taken sacrifices from activists throughout the years, fighting for peoples' rights to be who they are.
The theme of this year's LGBT+ History Month is "Politics in Art". The SU have organised a number of events for you to learn more about the history of the LGBT+ community and learn how important it is that we keep pushing for LGBT+ inclusivity to be embedded into all areas. Check out our webpage for all the information you'll need about these events: The SU LGBT+ History Month Webpage.
In May 1988, Section 28 of the Local Government Act was enacted and brought in to "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities". Section 28 was blatantly discriminatory and had a horrific impact on the LGBT+ community. It reinforced society-wide discriminatory views regarding the LGBT+ community, normalising homophobic abuse. It disallowed the LGBT+ community having role models relevant to them, meaning many people internalised their identity, being ashamed of who they are. It also meant the LGBT+ community couldn't access educational resources relevant to themselves, such as relevant sex education, putting many people at risk. After many years of campaigning and mass protests in support of the LGBT+ community, Section 28 was abolished in February 2003. This is why LGBT+ History Month takes place in February in the UK.
The rights of the LGBT+ community in the UK have come a long way. Homosexuality was a crime until 1967. It was a diagnosable mental illness until 1973. Same sex couples were not legalised until 2013. There is still an incredibly long way to go. The LGBT+ community continues to face commonplace and deep-rooted discrimination, spanning every area of society, including healthcare, mental health, education, and employment. 1 in 7 Transgender people have been refused care by a GP in the UK because they are Transgender, more than 1 in 4 Transgender young people have attempted to end their lives, and 89% have experienced suicidal thoughts. 42% of LGBT+ students have hidden their identity at university due to fear of discrimination, and 18% of LGBT+ people looking for work have faced discrimination while trying to get a job. The LGBT+ community is comprised of a huge spectrum of genders and sexualities, all of which face unique and impactful forms of discrimination and oppression. As well as this, LGBT+ discrimination is intersectional and members of the LGBT+ community with other underrepresented characteristics will face additional challenges and forms of oppression.
Here's a list of some useful reading for further information about LGBT+ history, everyday discrimination faced by the LGBT+ community, and intersectionality:
The SU Bath are proud to represent students with a variety of sexualities and gender identities. The SU has an amazing LGBT+ student group, who do some incredible work in providing peer support groups and social opportunities for the LGBT+ community, as well as ensuring LGBT+ issues are represented at the University and The SU, through regularly liaising with our Officers and SU staff. We thought we'd highlight some of the work The SU has done in the past 12 months to improve inclusivity for our LGBT+ community at Bath:
- Launched our Liberation Network, creating a direct space for our LGBT+ representation to raise any inclusivity issues and for The SU to gain LGBT+ input on projects and arising issues.
- Working with the University on the Be The Change campaign, ensuring LGBT+ inclusivity is embedded.
- Sourced funding for our LGBT+ student group to contract an external, trained facilitator for their Transgender support group.
- Relaunched our Inclusivity Award, including developing a range of resources for our Student Leader Hub around inclusivity.
- Delivered in-person training to student leaders, such as Freshers' Week Captains, around equality, diversity, and inclusivity, with a specific section regarding LGBT+ inclusivity.
- Currently working with the University in auditing current toilet facilities, to identify areas where all gender toilets are needed. This includes introducing all gender toilets in the Sulis Club refurbishment.
- Encouraging pronoun sharing, through encouraging staff to wear pronoun badges on their lanyards and adding pronouns to Officer profiles.
- Encouraging the STV to hold women/womxn gym sessions.
- LGBT+ Allyship training for sports committees with an anonymous forum for any questions.
- Integrating weekly LGBTQ+ sessions into Bath Active.
While we're continuing to work on LGBT+ inclusivity and tackling LGBT+ discrimination within the University and The SU, we are acutely aware that LGBT+ discrimination persists and LGBT+ students face oppression outside of the university context. For example, LGBT+ students may face discrimination or rejection from family members due to their identity. Some LGBT+ students may not feel safe coming out to family members, meaning some students choose to hide their identity to protect their safety. As well as this, while this article focusses on LGBT+ history in the UK, LGBT+ discrimination is worldwide, with same sex marriage being legal in only 30 out of 195 countries in the world. With around 20% of our student body being international students, it is important to consider that many LGBT+ students may come from countries which have more long-standing, deep-rooted LGBT+ discrimination, facing unjust challenges to this day and highlighting the intersectional nature of LGBT+ discrimination.
A massive thank you to all students and staff who represent the LGBT+ community to help improve inclusivity at our University, and staff and students who demonstrate active Allyship to the LGBT+ community.
If you'd like to reach out for support regarding any of the issues in this article, you can contact the wellbeing service through emailing email@example.com or our SU Advice & Support Service through emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Our LGBT+ student group also has a range of external organisations and useful resources available for you to access here.
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