A matter of pride

June is Pride Month, an international celebration of the LGBTIQA+ community. Originally beginning in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York – a tipping point in the gay liberation movement in the US – Pride Month is a symbol of LGBTIQA+ unity and an acknowledgement of its history. This year marks 50 years since the riots, and it is an opportunity for people to reflect on the progress made by LGBTIQA+ communities around the world, and address the challenges they still face.

The month of June is celebrated internationally as Pride Month, with parades and other significant events organised. However, in Australia, our largest LGBTIQA+ celebration is the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March. This timing takes advantage of the warmer weather, but its history dates back to 24 June 1978 when Sydney’s first Mardi Gras took place in commemoration of the Stonewall riots.

Many of the issues of concern to LGBTIQA+ people 50 years ago still remain. There are higher levels of homelessness among LGBTIQA+ young people, higher levels of violence against LGBTIQA+ people, particularly transgender and gender diverse people, and discrimination and vilification continues against LGBTIQA+ people across the greater community. In some countries, it is illegal to engage in same-sex relations and there are freedom of speech restrictions for gender and sexual diversities. In March 2019, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) released its 13th State-Sponsored Homophobia global report which outlines these matters in detail.

Pride Month provides a tremendous opportunity to reflect on how we incorporate LGBTIQA+ perspectives in our subjects, from events of note such as Mardi Gras or Stonewall Riots in history classes, to inclusive texts in primary and English classes, and recognition of diverse families and relationships in PDHPE. It is also a prime opportunity to reflect on whether school policies are inclusive of LGBTIQA+ people and if they address safety and wellbeing issues such as bullying and discipline.

Members have the opportunity to borrow LGBTIQA+ resources from the Teachers Federation Library, including DVDs such as Pride and Riot that reflect on the actions and victories of the past. There is also a range of age-appropriate resources for young people that can be used in the classroom or school libraries.

Mel Smith, Officer attached to LGBTIQ matters