October is LGBTQIA+ History Month and there is a history behind this month most people are unaware of. The idea of an LGBTQIA+ history month started in 1994 when a Missouri High School Teacher named Rodney Wilson believed there should be a month dedicated to teaching gay and lesbian history. October was chosen as the month because not only were public schools in session during that month, but National Coming Out Day is also in October.
Since the creation of LGBTQIA+ History Month, several historic moments have happened regarding LGBTQIA+ rights. On Nov. 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, as were denying the protections of same-sex married couples.
Another important moment in LGBTQIA+ history took place on June 26, 2015 when the U.S Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were allowed to marry in all 50 states. The Court cited the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution when deciding the case.
A more recent but equally important part of LGBTQIA+ history came on June 15, 2020 when the U.S Supreme Court decided in a 6-3 vote that employers cannot fire someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was used when deciding the case and according to CNBC, “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which says that employers may not discriminate based on ‘sex,’ also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.”
According to The Independent, LGBTQIA+ History Month is recognized by multiple countries including Canada, the U.K and Brazil. The U.K celebrates LGBTQIA+ month in February while Brazil observes it in June.
One place on campus that regularly observes LGBTQIA+ history is the Rainbow Center. Founded in September of 1998, the mission of the Rainbow Center “is to operate in the service of a more equitable world for all students, faculty, and staff at the University of Connecticut,” according to the Rainbow Center website.
The center regularly hosts virtual events that focus on the LGBTQIA+ community. An example of this is an event coming up on Oct. 15. On that day, the Rainbow Center will be hosting an Instagram Live session answering peoples questions about pronouns in honor of International Pronouns Day.
As a bisexual individual, LGBTQIA+ History Month is crucial for people like me because it allows individuals both outside and inside the LGBTQIA+ community to better understand the struggle for equality and justice around the world.
As of this writing, four states require LGBTQIA+ history to be taught in public schools. These states include California, Illinois, New Jersey and Colorado. In five states however, LGBTQIA+ history in public schools is either banned or restricted. These states include Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. South Carolina was originally a part of this list however in March 2020, the U.S District Court in South Carolina found that under the Equal Protection Clause, the state could not restrict teaching LGBTQIA+ history.