THIS month, Victorian schools will be able to highlight the history of sexual and gender diverse people in Australia as part of the state’s first ever LGBTI History Month.

The initiative was launched on Monday night by the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV), Minus18, and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA).

For the month of October students across Victoria will be able to learn about Australian LGBTI history as part of their school’s curriculum.

Speaking at the launch, Safe Schools project officer Mel Gaylard said the toolkit offered to schools will be a wonderful start to what the team hopes will be a growing annual event.

“We’re not claiming to have told the complete story of queer Australian history, but we’ve attempted to include some stories that we hope will connect with students,” she said.

“We also hope teachers will always look for the queer in everything they teach, because it’s there, and it’s so important for young people to know it exists.”

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 able to take part in a competition to design a history month activity and win prizes for themselves and their school.

One of the interviews highlighted in the toolkit is with a young queer man Aziz, who also spoke at the launch about how hard it was for him to discover his identity when he was in high school.

“I thought the public education system would teach me the things I wouldn’t be taught at home, but the task of learning about my sexuality and what it meant for me was a long and painful journey,” he said.

“It would’ve been less arduous if I was taught about LGBTI history at school, and exposed to other Australian queer youth like me who are living full lives and being phenomenal.”

Aziz said if he’d seen his own identity reflected or discussed in the classroom it would’ve had a profound impact.

“If I’d seen one queer Muslim or one queer black person on a poster at school, it would have honestly changed my life,” he said.

“Students need to learn about the LGBTI history of this country to gain an appreciation of the struggles queer people face, and continue to face.”

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, Minus18, and ALGA are hoping October eventually broadens out beyond Victoria and becomes an Australian LGBTI History Month.

“I think once people identify October as LGBTI History Month it’ll be another thing in your community calendar we can all get behind, like Midsumma in January,” Safe Schools founder Roz Ward told the Star Observer last month.

 

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