Weston Warhorse

Is it time for Weston to Start Celebrating LGBT History Month?

Catrin Zharry, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

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The October calendar passed out by Mr. Jorge to his APUSH class at the beginning of the month announces that it  is LGBT History Month, but LGBT history isn’t taught in any history class at Weston.

LGBT History Month was started in 1994 by Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson. The official LGBT History Month website says “LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.” The October calendar passed out by Mr. Jorge to his APUSH class at the beginning of the month announces that it  is LGBT History Month, but LGBT history isn’t taught in any history class at Weston.

LGBT History Month was started in 1994 by Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson. The official LGBT History Month website says “LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.”

Though Weston is a more open and accepting community than most, nothing is done during the month of October on behalf of the school to show support for its queer community.“I think celebrating LGBT history is important,” says Arielle Belluck ‘18, president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at WHS. “For two reasons: The first is to create a sense of tradition among the members of the LGBT community and to acknowledge the impact of people in our past. The second is to educate people about the complexity and significance of LGBT history, because when people are aware of a group’s history, I think they are less likely to appropriate or mock it.”

While speaking of people and events that played large roles in LGBT history and are especially significant to her, Belluck says “Alfred Kinsey’s work is particularly important to me, because he created a widely recognized system for LGBT identification, and was one of the first to suggest that sexuality exists on a spectrum. The Stonewall Riot was also an incredibly influential event, because it brought LGBT issues to mainstream political discussion and centered queer activism around trans women and drag queens, two of the most active and also most ridiculed groups in the LGBT community.”

Also a member of the GSA, Olivia Feldman ‘20 says LGBT History Month is important to celebrate because “it’s a way to remember all of the hardships and struggles people have had, and showing your pride.” Despite inclusion and equality of all human beings being fought for more and more everywhere, LGBT history has not been integrated into US, European, or “World” (but really eurocentric) history classes  in America. Many op-eds have been published by popular media outlets such as the Huffington Post and the Times arguing for LGBT history to be elucidated more in classrooms. In the Huff Post article, the main argument is very clearly stated in the title itself: “If LGBT Rights Are Civil Rights, Why Don’t We Teach LGBT History In Schools?” The author of the article, James Nichols, a gay man who grew up in the South, says LGBT history not being included in his history classes or textbooks sent the message that it wasn’t as important as other history. He asserts that if LGBT history was integrated into school curriculums, it could help make the US a more tolerant and unified country.

David Carter of the Times notes that even when LGBT history has been part of major periods covered in classrooms across the US, it has been omitted: “It’s common for school children to study the classic age of Greece as the fountainhead of democracy. But are they told that the Greek philosophers upheld male homosexual love one as of their highest social values?” Are students taught that after World War II, when the Allies liberated the concentration camps, that homosexuals were the only people not freed?

Fortunately, California has been an exception to the audience of these arguments. In 2011, it passed the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act, which ordered the inclusion of the historical contributions of LGBT people in textbooks and social studies curricula in California public schools. Is it time for Weston to make more of an effort teaching LGBT history? Weston students have their own opinions. Feldman says “I strongly believe the students in WHS should learn and be more educated about the LGBT community and what it means to be apart of that community; I also believe all students should come together that month to create a more inclusive environment for all in the LGBT community.”

According to Belluck, “LGBT history and gender studies should both be taught as early as elementary school, just like civil rights history, to expose kids to diversity early on.” She says “Weston can always be doing more to celebrate the diversity that exists within our school community. I think the first step would be to try to confront the stereotypes attached to members of the LGBT community, especially bi and trans people. We can’t work towards acceptance if we judge people based on stereotypes rather than reality.”

Though Weston High School has not celebrated LGBT History Month as a school yet, Belluck says the Gay-Straight  Alliance dedicated a meeting in October to writing queer poetry with Sophie Collins ‘18 as a collaboration between the GSA and the literary magazine, Filament. Be on the lookout for the LGBT section in Filament this year, “with lots of writing from the GSA!”

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