LGBTQ+ History is Human History

How many non-queer people do you know that can identify Martha P. Johnson and her historical significance? How about even including queer people into that question. The answer is likely slim to none. 

For the record, Martha P. Johnson was a Black transgender woman who was an essential member of the activist community, most notably known for her influence in the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Riots were protests against queer discrimination, which helped our community get its foot in the ground when it comes to civil rights. In telling you this, I hope you can realize that I should not be the one teaching you these things. Teachers should be the ones to educate you on this. 

In a study done in 2019, only 19.4% of students claimed that they had been taught positive representations for LGBTQ+ people within history. Throughout the years, LGBTQ+ history has been nullified from the United States education curriculum. There can be many justifications as to why this is, whether it be deemed “inappropriate” or irrelevant for children to know. Regardless of the reason, the true answer remains clear: homophobia is still very present in today’s society. 

The Equality Act was passed this year, stating that discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity is prohibited. While this has been a step in the right direction, not much has changed since then. Why are we not making the changes in order to ensure inclusivity rather than just equality? Some may even argue that inclusivity is equality. 

Recently, Scotland became the first country to require LGBTQ+ history in schools. Notice how they have gone above the bare minimum of civil rights. The government is actively trying to diminish all discrimination and prejudice by educating people on the true history behind the community. Education is vital! In most cases, people dislike or have uneasy feelings towards something because they do not fully understand it. Mystery can be scary; curiosity kills the cat. But if we can take steps to dismantle the mystery behind the LGBTQ+ community, I guarantee that a lot more people would see that we are not a taboo- we are nothing to be afraid of. I have noticed that a lot of the disgust, anger or general dislike involving the community comes from those who do not understand it. Fear paints itself in many different forms, and I can see that here. 

So what does adding LGBTQ+ people into the education curriculum actually look like? Well, Scotland has now added queer-inclusive situations into their textbooks. Grade levels from kindergarten to high school textbooks now feature queer couples in math problems or science questions. Queer history is also being taught, which is one of the most important aspects of the new law. 

We cannot assume that everyone will take the time to educate themselves on proper LGBTQ+ history, issues, and topics. Instead, we should make these ideas a mandatory part of education to ensure that queer kids growing up feel less ostracized and more a part of society. Teens within the community already have horrifyingly high suicide rates. In taking away the mystery behind the community, I think they will feel less alone and more proud to be themselves. To any lonely queer children out there, you are loved, you are worthy, and you are bright.