It’s a significant year for LGBT+ communities as 2018 marks 30 years since Section 28 was enforced — a homophobic piece of legislation which stated local authorities "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".
This sparked a galvanisation of the Gay Rights Movement across the country — in Manchester, protest filled the streets and Stagecoach buses were targeted since owner Brian Souter was an active supporter of Section 28 and openly homophobic.
Why is LGBT+ History Month important?
Our Community Officer said this about LGBT+ History Month:
"As a young LGBT+ person who was born in the 90’s I personally saw my rights transform throughout time, with working rights improving, civil partnerships granted in 2004 and up until the age of 21 believing I wouldn’t be able to get married, until the marriage equality act was passed in the UK. For me it is important to remember and celebrate those of fought for my rights when I was too young to do so and dedicated their lives to the improvement of the LGBT+ community. These are the people who have inspired me to continue the fight for equal rights and look forward to what the future of the LGBT+ community will hold."
The history of LGBT+ campaigning and activism tells us a lot about how we have won rights today, as well as teaching us about how to achieve positive change for the future. There are also figures in LGBT+ history who can provide inspiration and courage to be yourself and accept others. One example is Marsha P. Johnson, an activist who was involved in the Stonewall Riots in 1969 — a self-identified drag queen who championed LGBT+ rights and campaigned on AIDS.
This month is a chance to connect with the history of LGBT+ people and take time to reflect, come together and take action today. In a recent report on the experiences of transgender people in the UK it was revealed that more than a third of trans students (36 per cent) in higher education have experienced negative comments or behaviour from staff in the last year. Other statistics from the report showed that 48 per cent of trans people don’t feel comfortable using public toilets through fear of discrimination or harassment, and a third of trans people (34 per cent) have been discriminated against because of their gender identity when visiting a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub in the last year. There is a lot more work to be done to ensure people of all genders and sexualities
How can I get involved?
This month there are activities and events happening locally , at the University and at The Union.
- Come along to our LGBT+ focused It’s OK session on 20 February to check out resources from local LGBT+ services and get creative in a relaxed environment.
- Watch this space for updates on our Tied Together campaign, for equality in sport; we’ll be giving out rainbow laces to clubs and holding workshops with our LGBT+ society, so that you can be an ambassador for inclusion in sport.
- Join LGBT+ staff and students for a celebration of all things LGBT at the Inc Drink at the Flour and Flagon at 16:30 on Friday 16 February. Manchester Met is one of the UK’s top 20 best employers for lesbian, gay, bi and trans staff – and joint second for education institutions – according to the Stonewall 2018 equality index. Find out more here.
- You can run to be a delegate for LGBT+ Conference — gain new skills, vote on policy and meet other LGBT+ students from across the country
Whether you are LGBT+ or an ally to the movement for equal rights, there are so many opportunities to learn, share stories and get active this month. Expect a number of other articles delving deeper into the role of the student movement in LGBT+ history and keep and eye out for the LGBT+ Societies’ questionnaire about LGBT+ people’s experiences.