For many of us, this is the ideal time to celebrate our LGBT+ identities with our allies both politically and socially. I'm particularly partial to a Pride march; the feeling of complete liberation and solidarity is empowering, adrenalin fuelled and addictive.
The hostile reception towards LGBT+ people at the formative Pride marches from 1970 is well documented. Thankfully now in the UK, Pride is a joyful event where we have reached a level of equality that allows us to be ourselves. It is those years of struggle to reach this point that makes the events of Orlando, Florida, all the harder to comprehend.
There isn't a way to come to terms with the senseless violence and killing of over 100 people, who were simply exercising their right to be themselves. However heartbreaking, we must not let this senseless event taint our commitment to equality and fairness. We need education and information to help us unravel the motives behind these tragic events.
Schools can take many proactive measures to ensure support systems are in place for students, teachers and parents alike through training, updating policies, increasing visibility in the environment, engaging with community and to usualise LGBT+ people, books, events and history through the curriculum. We have a duty to do this to counteract the continuingly troubling statistics for our LGBT+ youth.
For example, compared to heterosexual cisgender youth, LGBT+ youth are more at risk of suicide, depression and addiction. The current financial climate means that support services are becoming few and far between. To help our LGBT+ youth, Educate & Celebrate launched a poster campaign with our friends at Switchboard - The LGBT+ helpline, to ensure that those most in need of support have instant access to a listening ear both in and out of school.
Studying the history of Pride is an excellent starting place with which to fill your curriculum, either through a human rights lesson in humanities, finding countries where Pride marches are held in Geography, plotting scatter diagrams with populations and attendees of Pride e.g. in Brighton and San Francisco, and let's not forget that the film Pride can be used as a powerful politics or media lesson, demonstrating how two communities can join in solidarity for the greater good regardless of their differences.
From the legalisation of homosexuality in 1967 to the Stonewall riots in June 1969, Section 28 in 1988, to name but a few, there is no question that our schools in 2016 have the best legislation they've ever had. However, the events of June 11th remind us that we have nowhere reached our goal of social justice.
Therefore, going forward - Yes, we will promote LGBT+ identities, we will publish LGBT+ books and we are certainly not pretending.
WE ARE PRIDE.
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