About the event
17 May is marked as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia. The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. This Day aims to celebrate sexual and gender diversity, and campaign against the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people internationally.
There are over 70 countries in the world where same-sex relationships are illegal, and in around 10 of these countries the punishment could be death. It is estimated that 70% of the world's population live under laws and regulations that limit freedom of expression around sexual orientation and gender identity.
The day is more important than ever with a resurgence in homphobic and transphobic laws being passed and transphobic news stories gaining mainstream attention.
How to approach it
As you will know, this topic must be approached with care given that you may have students in your class who are LGBTQ+, visible or otherwise. The crucial point to bring across to students is that there is no ‘debate’ about the existence or ‘normality’ of LGBTQ+ people. LGBTQ+ people have existed since prehistory and will continue to exist no matter the opinion that others have of them. The only choice individuals and societies can make is whether to accept and embrace LGBTQ+ people or not. Show that the first option leads to open, accepting and caring societies while the second leads to oppressive and violent ones.
You could begin to show this by giving examples through history of societies that embraced homosexual relations and non-binary genders. Homosexuality in Ancient Greece is a good example as are the non-binary ‘two spirit’ people of Native America, the ‘muxes’ third gender in Mexico or the Hijra gender of India. Show students that if a person feels a certain way about their sexuality or gender we should believe them. The key question to work with students on is: how can we help people to fully express their own sexuality and gender? How can we protect LQBTQ+ people? What can we do to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in our schools, communities and societies?
The world is full of different wonderful people. Some of these people are made to feel they are different or not normal. How can we help all sexualities and genders feel valued and included?