In the United States Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month is celebrated in October. It began in 1994 to observe the history of Gay Rights and National Coming Out Day which is celebrated on October 11th. October also marks the anniversary of the LGBT march on Washington in 1979. It was started by Rodney Wilson, a high school teacher in St. Louis, Missouri to set aside a time to teach gay and lesbian history.
In 2000, President Clinton named June, Gay & Lesbian Pride Month and President Obama named June, 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Lesbian Pride Month. LGBT History Month is celebrated in February in the United Kingdom. This year in Philadelphia Philly Pride is planning Outfest, the largest National Coming Out Event in the world on October 13th according to their website. As of today they have 143 groups participating.
In the year 2000, I attended training for educators on how to respond when encountering someone being harassed for being gay or lesbian. Thirteen years later it is still necessary to inform educators and everyone what to do when encountering someone being harassed because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. When witnessing or hearing someone being bullied and insulted for being gay, respond immediately. The response must take place in the same space and volume where the insult took place. It is important to stop the perpetrator and use the same words that was used letting everyone know that the words they used are insulting to the students in the school and that everyone in the school is important.
This is a quick, effective way to handle a difficult situation letting everyone know that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the school and that they are important. It also lets everyone know that they are in a safe and welcoming environment.
This response may not stop the negative behavior and harassment right away but it lets everyone know that it is not tolerated in the school environment. Many gay students have committed suicide because of gay bullying. Therefore, it is important for teachers to send the message that every student is important by responding to insults and threats immediately and in a way that allows everyone to hear that the negative behavior is not welcome in school. This may save lives. This month honors the memory of the many students who have taken their lives due to gay bullying. This is just a small number listed here to represent the many: Tyler Clementi, Bailey O'Neill, Justin Aaberg, Lance Lundsten, Jamey Rodemeyer, Kenneth Weishuhn, Jr., Asher Brown and Seth Walsh.
To find out more about Outfest in Philadelphia go to http://www.phillypride.org/outfest.php