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A Rainbow in February

LESBIANS, GAY MEN, BISEXUAL and TRANS PEOPLE are:

BLACK, WHITE, DUAL HERITAGE, DAUGHTERS, SONS, AUNTS, MOTHERS, SISTERS, BROTHERS, FATHERS, UNCLES,
FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES, WORKERS, NON-WAGED, STUDENTS, TEACHERS, CUSTOMERS, DIFFERENTLY-ABLED,
JEWISH, HINDU, SIKH, MUSLIM, CHRISTIAN, GENTILE, OF ALL RELIGIONS AND NONE, OLD AND YOUNG, WOMEN AND MEN, FROM EVERY POLITICAL PERSPECTIVE

and we all have a vast and exciting history.

February 2005 will be the first LGBT History Month.

Sir Ian McKellen says:

"The notorious Section 28 was a disaster for children in state schools because it encouraged their teachers to lie about homosexuality. In its aftermath, there will still be confusion around the subject in all our schools. Who is going now to eradicate homophobic bullying in the playground? Who is going now to support teachers and pupils who decide to
come out and publicly define their sexuality at school? Who is going now to place the history of gay people within the context of other academic studies?
"No group is better placed than Schools Out to answer these urgent questions and I send my very best wishes and congratulations on their 30th birthday."

Schools Out! Initiates LGBT History Month - February 2005

Schools OUT! has instigated this annual event, in which we can celebrate all the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans achievements, past and present. Co-chair Paul Patrick explained:

'This event will give us the opportunity to reveal and explore the vast wealth of LGBT experience; nationally and internationally. As we work in schools, we are only too aware of the ignorance that exists about LGBT people. Whilst we are found in educational curricula: William Shakespeare; Florence Nightingale; Isaac Newton; Virginia Woolf; Bayard Rusting; Jackie Kay; Shaka, leader of the Zulu Nation; Jan Morris; and Mark Rees - to name but a few- our sexual orientation/gender identity is ignored and we are rendered invisible. Because of this, stereotypes abound that feed the appalling homophobia/transphobia that is frequently expressed and distorts all our lives.'
LGBT History month will be an opportunity to tackle the prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination of LGBT people. It is well known that homophobic bullying is rife in schools and in society as a whole. This is due to the ignorance and silence that surround our lives. We cannot tackle homophobia and the constant derogatory use of the word gay, without educating society about who we are and what we have done. The reality is that most people don't knowingly know many LGBT people particularly those from the black or minority ethnic, disabled or older population.
LGBT history month will enable schools, libraries, theatres, organizations, sports clubs, councils, museums, art galleries and music venues to explore and celebrate the many achievements of LGBT people. Schools Out co-chair Sue Sanders explained:

'We have chosen February as it is a quiet time in both the school year and for society as a whole. It is also an opportunity to make St Valentine's day a more inclusive celebration of love. It's proximity to International Women's Day will allow for other important connections to be made.'

Having a focused time to explore the contributions from the diverse LGBT community, past and present, we shall encourage the school curriculums and society as a whole to be more inclusive: enabling the visibility of LGBT people: educating and addressing homophobia and transphobia.

Teachers have welcomed this initiative as it will give them additional confidence to deal with the issue in the knowledge that all schools have the opportunity to do the work at the same time, thus challenging the perceived embarrassment of raising the issues.

Schools Out, the organisation working for LGBT equality in education, has launched LGBT History month to occur annually beginning February 2005.

The month has had support from Jacqui Smith, Minister for Equality, who said:

'I believe the month will be important in helping to drive the culture change to create a more inclusive society. It will also be a great opportunity to uncover some hidden LGBT histories.'

The DTI, DAC, DFES, Amnesty International, NUT, Intercom Trust, FFLAG, THT, Southwark Council, Simon Hughes amongst others are supporting the event.

For Further Information:

www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk
Sue Sanders sue.sanders03@virgin.net 0207 635 0476
Paul Patrick paulchrysalis@yahoo.co.uk 01282 441601 07866723806
BM Schools Out National, London, WC1N 3XX secretary@schools-out.org.uk www.schools-out.org.uk

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people:

Sappho (poet)
Virginia Woolf (writer)
Jackie Kay (African Caribbean writer, poet)
Ellen DeGeneres (comedian actor)
KD Lang (country singer song writer)
Alex Parks (Fame Academy winner 2003)
Martina Navratilova (tennis player)
Will Young (pop singer)
Ian McKellen (film, television and theatre actor)
Waheed Ali (television entrepreneur and peer)
Bayard Rustin (Mr March organised for Martin Luther King)
Lionel Blue (rabbi, writer broadcaster)
Cyril Nri (Actor Police officer Adam Okara of the Bill)
Elton John (musician and composer)
James Baldwin ( writer)
Alan Turing (mathematician)
Leornado Da Vinci (artist)
James I -(King of England, 1603-25)
Florence Nightingale (pioneer nurse)
Frida Kahlo (Mexican painter)
William Shakespeare (playwrite and poet)
Isaac Newton (scientist)
Shaka - (Leader of the Zulu Nation)
Jan Morris (writer)
Mark Rees( MP)