By: Brianna Schwengels, City Year AmeriCorps Member
LGBT History Month, which took place in October, is a time for learning and celebrating LGBT issues from the past and present and thinking about the future!
During LGBT month lots of important events take place like the very first National March on Washington, which was led by the LGBT community. Other events include: Ally Week (which helps inform and teach the community on how to be an ally for LGBT rights), Spirit Day on October 19th (one of the most highly recognized annual LGBT events since 2010 where supporters wear purple to show solidarity against bullying).
“When you tell Gay Americans that they can’t marry the person that they love, your telling that to kids too. Don’t be shocked and wonder where all these bullies are coming from…They learned it from watching you.” -Sarah Silverman
Every day the LGBT community is becoming stronger but it is still clear that it can be a hostile environment for our students. I have found that LGBT students still largely feel unsafe, experiencing high rates of harassment and discrimination within the school system. As a result, their educational opportunities are measurably compromised and anti- bullying resources are on the rise in many schools. Progress is evident, but when more than half of LGBT youth continue to report unsafe or even dangerous school climates, we all have a responsibility to act. Laverne Cox, anti-bullying supporter and star of the hit show “Orange is the New Black” (pictured below), has used her time in the spotlight to create a documentary called “The T-word” to give insight on the life of transgender students. This documentary shows the bravery of many people coming forward and telling their story of being young transgendered and living in society and that places a stigma on the LGBT culture.
The LGBT voice, like many minorities, has often been hidden from our common history. History months like LGBT are about digging into the past and finding hidden stories from people and minority and giving them the spotlight they’ve deserved all along. So I challenge you to not only wear purple with me in October, but to embrace the culture and the people that make it colorful. Takes some time out of your day to learn about LGBT history because at its core history is a story!