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OPINON: gay history should be a compulsory topic in schools

Sean Gleaves writes: “I believe in order to combat homophobia, we need to educate people about LGBT history.”

I watched Manchester Pride this year, finally being proud of who I am. With my partner next to me holding my hand as the parade went past in a blur of colour and music, I no longer felt the need to hide who I was in fear of being called ‘gay boy’ or other horrible words that I was so used to hearing at school.

I loved holding my bf James’s hand at pride but I wasn’t always so confident

I soon learnt in school that in order to make my time there more bearable I would have to fake my so-called ‘straightness’. This meant changing my voice, changing the way I dressed, and even changing the way I stood – anything that could potentially expose me as being gay was to be hidden.

I never felt proud of my sexuality once during that time and I became depressed. I realised during college that if I didn’t
accept who I was, I was going to have to live that lie forever, and in my final year of college I finally worked up the courage to tell my best friend that I was gay, and since then I have never looked back.

Unfortunately, I am not the only one with a story similar to this. Many other people have faced, and are still facing homophobic discrimination. A report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission found that two-thirds of LGBT students had been
bullied due to their sexuality, and 17% had received death threats.

In many ways, it’s a great time to be gay, and it’s increasingly common to see same sex-couples holding hands.

However, violent attacks are still a common occurrence, and according to recent data by the anti-violence charity Galop, homophobic attacks have increased by 147%.

Headlines such as “Gay man nearly killed in ‘homophobic’ attack” and “Gay couple kicked and stamped on repeatedly” are a common occurrence.

I believe that in order to combat homophobia, we need to educate people about LGBT history.

While limited LBGT history is already starting to be taught in education and history lessons, I still feel that LGBT history should be a bigger part of the curriculum, not only to combat homophobia but also to help young gay kids like me not so long ago, who are struggling with their sexuality.

Education is the key to ending discrimination and giving teachers the confidence and the recourses to teach LGBT history, along with the idea of celebrating diversity, could help to eradicate homophobia from all schools and educational establishments in the future.

Exploring the definitions of LGBT and looking at famous LGBT people in history such as Alan Turing, a great mathematician and pioneer in computer science who was discriminated against due to his sexuality, could help to change opinions of students and parents alike.

Alan Turning is widely credited as one of the most influential men in the defeat of the Nazis but he was still hounded, tortured, mocked and brutalised for being gay

Unfortunately, discrimination is a problem for many people, not just in the LGBT community and to me it is vitality important that we educate people in order to contribute to the end of discrimination once and for all, even if that process is a long one.

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