Students across Victoria will soon have the opportunity to celebrate LGBTI History Month as part of their curriculum, the first of its kind in Australia.

For the month of October schools will be able to highlight the largely invisible history of sexual and gender diverse people in the country.

The initiative was announced and will be led by the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV), Minus18, and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA).

Manager of SSCV Roz Ward said it’s incredibly important for students to have an understanding that LGBTI people have always existed.

“Any time an LGBTI student hears anything about themselves or their identity at school it feels good,” Ward told the Star Observer.

“We all need to hear stories about ourselves and thing in relation to our past as a community in order to feel like we have a future.

“That’s what inclusion is all about, and Safe Schools makes sure LGBTI young people can feel safe and good at school.”

As part of the toolkit offered to schools, they will receive five themed posters – work, love, family, celebration, and education – alongside case studies, interviews, and resources for further study.

Students will also be invited to take part in a competition to design a history month activity and win prizes for themselves and their school.

“It’s important for all students to understand that diversity has always existed, in the same way we talk about the history of cultural diversity,” Ward said.

“LGBTI history is the same, and it’s important for everyone to know, especially the role LGBTI people have had in making history.”

Some of the notable figures featured in the toolkit include Val Eastwood, who ran Val’s Coffee Lounge, a meeting place for the ‘camp’ community in the early 1950s.

One of the original Mardi Gras attendees and 78ers will also be featured, alongside trans advocate Brenda Appleton.

Chief Executive of Minus18 Micah Scott believes LGBTI History Month will have a profound impact on many sexual and gender diverse students.

“It’s empowering for LGBTI youth to see their identities represented in school activities and lessons,” he said.

“Showing students that LGBTI people were achieving greatness before they were even born – especially in Australia – is an awesome thing to explore.”

The idea is based on similar history months already taking place in the UK and the US.

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, Minus18, and ALGA are hoping that October becomes established as Australian LGBTI History Month.

“I think once people identify October as LGBTI History Month it’ll be another thing in our community calendar we can all get behind, like Midsumma in January,” Ward said.

 

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