LGBT History Month 2024 – 20+ great teaching resources for primary and secondary this February
February is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans History Month so we’ve rounded up some great resources and reference sites for you to educate and celebrate…
- by Teachwire
- When is LGBT+ History Month?
- What is LGBT+ History Month?
- LGBT+ History Month resources for schools
- 5 books to support LGBTQ+ diversity in primary schools
- Why schools should teach LGBT+ history
- How to make every month LGBT+ History Month
- Why inclusive education is vital
- How to make your school LGBTIQ+ inclusive
When is LGBT+ History Month?
LGBT History Month takes place every February.
What is LGBT+ History Month?
The overall aim of LGBT+ History month is to promote equality and diversity. The theme in 2024 is ‘Medicine’ – celebrating LGBT+ people’s contributions to the field of medicine and healthcare.
This year the charity is shining a light on the history of the LGBT+ community’s experience of receiving healthcare, and the health inequalities they still face today.
LGBT+ History Month resources for schools
Glossary of terms
Promote shared understanding and mutual respect by helping staff get to grips with these simple, universal terms for trans and gender-questioning individuals.
Educational Action Challenging Homophobia created this glossary, which features clear definitions for 13 gender identity and sexuality terms.
Free primary LGBT+ History Month resources
LGBT+ young people’s charity Just Like Us has created free downloadable profiles of historical icons.
Suitable for KS1 and KS2, they cover a range of people, including lesbian astronaut Sally Ride, transgender pilot Roberta Cowell, bisexual singer Josephine Baker and gay artist Keith Haring.
British Army LGBTQ+ resources
Help secondary students aged 11–16 build their understanding of the LGBTQ+ community with these resources all about the contributions of LGBTQ+ Army personnel past and present.
In the pack you’ll find an assembly and lesson plan. The assembly profiles six LGBTQ+ service people from the First and Second World Wars. There’s also video reflections from current LGBTQ+ Army personnel.
Families KS2 discussion and writing pack
Explore how all families are founded in love, no matter what they look like, with this KS2 resource pack from Plazoom.
The activities will teach pupils that family units can vary. This includes blended and single-parent families, families where parents are the same sex or that have a mum and dad.
Pupils will draw pictures or create family trees showing who they live with and discuss images that challenge stereotypes of what a family should look like.
The Proud Trust
The Proud Trust is a charity providing education, support and advocacy for LGBT+ young people and their communities.
In its primary education toolkit you’ll find Happily Ever After. This is a KS2 resource that explores same-gender relationships and equal marriage.
Also on offer for UKS2 is a Trans Positive Education for Primary Schools Pack. It consists of five resourced lessons that can be delivered as part of a PSHE KS2 programme.
The Fights That Make US
The Fights That Make Us is a new read for children aged 10+ about LGBTQ+ history from award-winning author Sarah Hagger-Holt. Its dual narrative follows LGBT family members across two generations with their own struggles against Section 28 and transphobia.
LGBT-inclusive primary curriculum
Whether you’re just getting started on LGBT+ inclusion or developing your best practice even further, this free Stonewall guide can help.
Nicola Adams KS1 reading and writing resources pack
Introduce KS1 pupils to sportswoman Nicola Adams, using this KS1 resources pack from Plazoom. It looks at her achievements and how she is an inspirational person within and beyond the LBGTQ+ community.
Pupils will have the opportunity to develop comprehension skills using the questions linked to the biographical text about the boxer. They’ll also consider how she has inspired others.
Children will go on to discuss who inspires them, with opportunities to write about who is inspirational in their own lives.
Explore LGBT+ History Month through film
Into Film invites schools to host a themed assembly this February. Use movies like The Imitation Game, Carol and Milk as the centre of lessons on PSHE, SMSC and citizenship.
Gender identity lesson plans for primary school
The Gender Identity Research and Education Society has produced two different age-related lesson plans on gender identity for primary school. There’s one for ages 3-6, and one for 7-11.
5 books to support LGBTQ+ diversity in primary schools
Reading material in your school library should reflect everyone’s reality. Here, teacher and English consultant Ian Eagleton suggests books that will help you to rejoice in love in all its forms…
As a young gay man, I struggled to find books that I could truly identify with. I wanted to read something that highlighted my experiences and made me feel less alone.
This has made me aware of how important it is to have books in school that mirror everyone’s realities.
None of the books chosen here aim to indoctrinate children into the LGBTQ+ community, but simply rejoice in love in all its different forms by recognising, normalising and honouring every relationship.
It is of course vital you read these books before sharing them with your class and ensure they are appropriate and suitable for your children.
But if teachers can sensitively direct children’s reading then they will have the compassion and understanding they need to challenge inequality and replace the ‘what is’ with ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could be’.
Emmett and Caleb
Emmett and Caleb explores the relationship between the two main characters as they journey through birthdays, hard times and the beauty of the changing seasons.
The two friends share precious moments together such as watching a stunning sunset or waving goodbye to summer as autumnal leaves fall.
Their relationship is never defined, leaving it open to interpretation, but it’s lovely to share in their quiet, tender friendship.
Julian is a Mermaid
Julian’s life is changed when he sees three enthralling women dressed as mermaids. Swishes of coral blue and intricately illustrated underwater scenes depict Julian’s daydream of becoming a mermaid.
When Nana sees Julian proudly transformed into his version of a mermaid, the empty space surrounding him and Nana’s furious face suggest a devastating reaction.
Many children will recognise the notions of rejection and invisibility, but Nana gifts Julian a pearl necklace to complete his glamorous outfit.
They join a procession of mermaids “like you, honey” and a riot of colour reflects Julian’s feelings of joy as he finds his true place in the world.
Red: A Crayon’s Story
Red crayon is not very good at being red. Every time he tries to draw strawberries, hearts and cherries, everything turns out blue!
His teacher thinks he needs more practice, his parents feel he needs to mix with other colours and many berate him for his lack of effort – after all, his label says ‘red’ and that’s the way he came from the factory!
Eventually, a new friend offers Red the chance to be himself and Red discovers that he is, of course, Blue!
A colourful, charming, witty picture book about the damage of forcing labels onto others and the freedom and delight that being yourself brings.
Heather Has Two Mommies
Heather Has Two Mummies was first published in 1989. While many lesbian mums were thrilled to see themselves in a children’s book, there were a number of people who were disgusted by the inclusion of a different family unit.
The book is a colourful, gentle exploration of what it means to be a family.
Heather and her two mums picnic, play and bake together. When Ms Molly asks the class to paint a picture of their families, we see, through beautiful, child-like watercolour illustrations, how different every family is.
It’s a message that still needs to be acknowledged.
Jerome By Heart
This vivid picture book shows us the beauty of true friendship and the feeling of safety it engenders.
Told simply in the first person, young Raphael shares with us his feelings of tender affection for his best friend, Jerome.
With echoes of Walt Whitman’s We Two Boys Together Clinging and Josh Gilgun’s The Way They Are, the book sensitively considers how the day-to-day rhythm of life can be enriched by love.
Despite his parents’ disapproval, the story ends on a life-affirming note. Raphael’s spirit cannot be vanquished and the boys’ love remains “strong as a fortress”.
Why schools should teach LGBT+ history
Pride reminds us how far we’ve come with respect to LGBT+ understanding and respect. So why not teach that remarkable history in school, asks Aqsa Islam…
In 2021, Scotland became the first country in the world to embed LGBTQ+ inclusive teaching throughout the curriculum.
This marked a bold step forward in attempts at promoting equality, reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and improving the experience of young LGBTQ+ people in education. Other nations of the UK are yet to replicate this move, leaving LGBTQ+ history underrepresented in the curriculum.
All year round
An independent Facing History survey of 2,000 14- to 17-year-olds found that only 35% believe they’re being taught a representative version of history. Yes, Pride Month is an important celebration of marginal communities, but we should teach LGBTQ+ history all year round.
The history curriculum could teach young people about the Stonewall Riots, for example. Or you could cover the historical oppression of LGBTQ+ communities. Alternatively, you could learn about the long history of campaigning by those communities for equal rights.
You could use art lessons to study the experiences of influential LGBTQ+ artists, such as David Hockney. You could discuss the visual representation of art that engages with LGBTQ+ themes.
Maths lessons could include activities that relate to the discoveries and achievements of Alan Turing. Science lessons, meanwhile, could highlight the achievements of astronaut and physicist Sally Ride. She was the first – and thus far only – LGBTQ+ astronaut.
Powerful learning experiences
Music and literature are both subjects that can provide particularly powerful learning experiences in the context of LGBTQ+ history.
As mediums, books and music can establish direct and deep connections with audiences, in ways that can foster self-acceptance, build self-esteem and encourage greater acceptance of those who are different to us.
For schools keen to embrace LGBTQ+ history, but concerned about the implications for their workload and planning, Facing History’s free ‘LGBTQ+ History and Why It Matters’ lesson covers two millennia of LGBTQ+ history.
Facing History also has ready-to-use assemblies to mark LGBTQ+ History Month and International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
LGBTQ+ history lessons can boost students’ sense of belonging and build empathy. Ultimately they normalise the fact that our sexual and gender identities are complex and diverse.
Aqsa Islam is programme associate at the charity Facing History and Ourselves; for more information, visit facinghistory.org
How to make every month LGBT+ History Month
View LGBT+ History Month as the jewel in your crowns, but use it to showcase the amazing work you do every day, all year round, says LGBT+ inclusion advocate, Dr Shaun Dellenty…
Back in 2009 whilst working as a primary school leader pupil, data revealed that we had a serious bullying issue related to LGBT+ identities. 75% of pupils were experiencing homophobic bullying daily.
With a duty of care for all our children I knew we could not let this go unchecked. As a survivor of homophobia, I knew well the negative impact that such bullying has on mental health, attendance and attainment. It can even potentially lead (as it very nearly did in my case) to suicide.
There was, back then, little about positive LGBT+ inclusion for primary-aged pupils. Stonewall informed me they were cautious about undertaking work in primary schools. This was due to negative reactions from parents and the press.
They (and I) were aware of the possibility that any such work might result in accusations that, somehow, we were ‘sexualising’ young people. This was purely by defining terms such as ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ in an age-appropriate manner and giving young people permission to use these words factually and respectfully.
My lived experience showed me that we often know exactly who we are as LGBT+ people, even as far back as infants.
LGBT+ inclusion training
My school had a specific problem, and specific problems require targeted solutions. In the absence of any existing training, I wrote a positive LGBT+ inclusion training programme.
The whole-school training was informed by my lived experiences as a gay youth. It was also informed by my classroom practice, school leadership experience and my work as a part-time schools consultant.
Initially, I used Black History Month activities as a stimulus, imagining what could happen if schools dedicated one week of the year to exploring LGBT+ issues to increase visibility and awareness.
However, as a school leader with fairly extensive experience in introducing whole-school and borough-wide initiatives, this felt too compartmentalized. It was too tokenistic.
Whilst I could see that ‘minority-themed’ school weeks supported visibility, the core aim of my training would be to effect sustainable whole-school organisational change at a strategic level, resulting in a positively LGBT+ inclusive ethos that would permeate every aspect of school life. I then wanted to reach out into the community beyond the school gates.
In this way, the overall aim of LGBT+ History Month could be a constant companion to ongoing classroom practice and whole-school strategic management.
I delivered the training in my own school in January 2010. At its core was recognition that every professional in every school comes to LGBT+ issues with their own history in terms of what they think, feel, believe and have been told about what LGBT+ human beings are, and perhaps more importantly, what they are not.
I felt that until we had created a safe, compassionate and non-judgmental space in which we could all work our way through our anxieties, misconceptions and yes, even in some cases, prejudices, any LGBT+ teaching and learning would be less effective and be more likely to be ‘quietly forgotten’ by pressured teachers.
This process proved highly effective. A tangible sense of empowerment and relief swept through our school as we got on with making our daily lives rich with visible LGBT+ role models.
We provided books, models and image resources in nursery to Year 6 about varied families and relationships. We studied human rights. Children learnt about the negative impact of prejudice-related bullying of all kinds. We taught the appropriate use of the word ‘gay’. It was about empowering young people to own and lead on the work.
At a management level we ensured policies, handbooks and codes of conduct were compliant as the Equality Act 2010 and Ofsted frameworks finally began to catch up with us.
Our commitment to LGBT+ inclusion became as much a part of our everyday work as any other form of inclusion. It became a source of daily visibility and celebration in the same way as non-LGBT+ identities.
Since 2009 I have trained over 21,000 education professionals in the UK. I lead training for school staff at all levels and lecture on LGBT+ inclusion in teacher training faculties. I also tell my story in many assemblies at primary and secondary.
The training programme I created won multiple awards and I was honoured with a ‘Points of Light’ designation for my work from the Prime Minister.
I am currently supporting the Isle of Man Department of Education, Sport and Culture to make the entire island education system more positively LGBT+ inclusive. This is a huge honour and privilege.
LGBT+ History Month, like Black History Month, is a fantastic way of heightening visibility and celebrating those whose histories have yet to be fully told.
These months provide important foci for raising awareness. Unfortunately, for some schools, they can also offer a ‘tickbox’ opportunity for covering LGBT+ and other minority issues.
This is an approach which fails to align with the Equality Act 2010’s requirement that we should be champions for LGBT+ equality, fostering good relations and acting as flag bearers for acceptance and compassion for differences of all kinds.
View LGBT+ History Month as the jewel in your crown, but use it to showcase the amazing work you do each and every day, all year round. Then we can really change young lives for the better.
Dr Shaun Dellenty is an award-winning educator and LGBT+ inclusion in education advocate. He is the author of Celebrating Difference: A Whole School Approach to LGBT+ Inclusion. Follow him on Twitter at @ShaunDellenty.
Why inclusive education is vital
Most people (sadly, not everyone) know that it’s important for children to learn about LGBTIQ+ issues and identities. We can always learn more, though, and improve what we pass on to children. These expert opinion pieces are a great place to start.
First Amie Taylor explains why LGBTQ+ resources for primary schools are vital, and how her teachers weren’t allowed to talk about same-sex relationships and so she didn’t even realise she was gay.
Simon James Green explains why books containing portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters deserve a place in every school.
If you’re looking to expand your school library, Barbara Band picks out 10 inclusive, empowering and empathetic reads.
How to make your school LGBTIQ+ inclusive
So, how exactly can you improve the culture of your school to be more inclusive? There are, of course, many ways, as covered by the following brilliant articles.
Elly Barnes argues that true LGBT+ inclusivity means more than a few rainbow posters along school corridors, and starts with a serious commitment to training.
Dr Anna Llewellyn explains that if we want true LGBT+ inclusivity in schools, we need to address our heteronormative society.
Andrew Coe talks about bringing LGBTIQ+ role models into the classroom.
Browse more similar resources themed around Pride Month 2024.