If you want to build understanding and respect toward LGBTQ people and issues at your school, don’t worry if you don’t have a gay-straight alliance or an organized LGBTQ group to work with. You can start small (for example, by giving your English teacher a list of LGBTQ-themed books, or by putting up a display for LGBTQ History Month, which is in October). Be creative. And remember—you have legal rights.
Here are some ideas:
Invite local activists or representatives from LGBT organizations to speak at your school.
Host a movie night with one or two of your favorite films about LGBT issues or featuring LGBT characters.
Write an article or column for your school newspaper on LGBT issues at your school. Or create a blog, website or zine and publish your own writing and artwork about being LGBTQ.
Organize a book club and plan to meet once a month after school to discuss a book by a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender author. Or just share one of your favorites with friends..
Commemorate important people and events in LGBT history. Calendars or displays can help raise awareness about the Stonewall riots, Harvey Milk’s election or assassination or Lambda Legal’s victory in Lawrence v. Texas, a Supreme Court decision that marked a new era of legal respect for the LGBT community.
Observe annual commemorations. They’re great times to showcase some of the ideas listed above. These may include:
- February 12: National Freedom to Marry Day: Falling on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and just before Valentine’s Day, Freedom to Marry Day combines the themes of equality and love, and builds support for marriage for same-sex couples and for LGBT civil rights in general. Visit www.freedomtomarry.org for more information.
- April: GLSEN’s Day of Silence: A student-led day of action where those who support making anti-LGBTQ bias unacceptable in schools take a daylong vow of silence to recognize and protest discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ students and their allies. Visit www.dayofsilence.org for more information.
- April to October: Pride: Events (usually in June but vary in some places) include parades, marches, rallies, festivals and other activities celebrating LGBT people and culture and often commemorating notable events in LGBT history.
- October 11: National Coming Out Day: The day commemorates the first march on Washington by LGBT people in 1987 and is dedicated to promoting honesty and openness about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
- October: LGBT History Month: Modeled after Black History Month and Women’s History Month, LGBT History Month is designed to promote the teaching of LGBT history in schools, as well as in LGBT communities and mainstream society.
- November: Transgender Day of Remembrance: The Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
If you encounter discrimination, or have questions about your legal rights, please contact Lambda Legal at 866-542-8336 or visit www.lambdalegal.org/form for more information and assistance.