Michigan Education Association

LGBT History Month

What is LGBT History Month?

Pink TriangleThe month of October was chosen to celebrate gay and lesbian history.  It also commemorates the anniversaries of the first two gay and lesbian marches on Washington in October 1979 and October 1987.  The October 1979 march drew over 200,000 and the march held on October 1987 drew over 500,000 with the first public viewing of the NAEMS Project AIDS Quilt. 

LGBT History Month not only serves as a time to study and celebrate gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender history but also to focus the public’s attention issues such as discrimination, marriage rights, AIDS and domestic partner benefits.  

One of the biggest problems within the LGBT community is the lack of role models and the sense of long standing community.  In July of 1995, the National Education Association passed an amendment supporting Gay and Lesbian History Month. 

FACTS ABOUT LGBT YOUTH

  • Gay and lesbian teens are more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers, accounting for up to 30% of all completed suicides among teens.

  • 50% of lesbian and gay youth report parental rejection because of their sexual orientation.

  • Up to half of the gay and bisexual males forced from their homes engage in prostitution as a means to support themselves.

  • The average age at which lesbians and gays acknowledge their same-sex orientation is between 14 and 16 years of age for males, and between 16 and 19 years of age for females.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that homosexuals are probably the most frequent victims of hate crimes in the United States.

  • 19% of gay men and 25% of lesbians report suffering physical violence at the hands of a family member as a result of sexual orientation.

  • 42% of homeless youth identify as gay or lesbian.

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PINK TRIANGLE?

The Pink Triangle was used by the Nazis to signify homosexuals. Although, homosexuals were only one of the groups targeted for extermination; unfortunately it is the group that history often excludes. The Pink Triangle defies anyone to deny history.

In 1935 Hitler revised the German Law, Paragraph 175, prohibiting homosexuality, by including kissing, embracing, and gay fantasies as well as sexual acts. Convicted offenders—an estimated 25,000 from 1937 to 1939—were sent to prison and later transferred to concentration camps. They were to be sterilized, most often by castration. Hitler changed his policy on homosexuality to include death in 1942.

Concentration camp prisoners were designated into groups by colored inverted triangles; which set up a social hierarchy among prisoners. A green triangle marked the wearer as a regular criminal; a red triangle denoted a political prisoner. Two yellow overlapping triangles forming a Star of David denote Jewish prisoners. The Pink Triangle was for homosexuals. A yellow Star of David under a superimposed Pink Triangle represented Gay Jewish prisoners-- by the social hierarchy, the lowest of all prisoners.

When the war was finally over, many homosexuals remained prisoners in the camps until 1969 when Paragraph 175 was repealed in West Germany.

The Pink Triangle was adopted by many Gay rights groups in the 1970s because  it draws attention to the oppression and persecution—then and now.

In the 80s, ACT-UP (Aids Coalition To Unleash Power) started using a Pink Triangle that pointed up, to signify an active fight back, rather than a passive resignation to fate. Today, for many, the Pink Triangle represents Pride and Solidarity.

RESOURCES

Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender History Month

Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network

Michigan Equality Organization

Teaching Tolerance Magazine, Spring 2002, School’s Out Article

Talking to Kids About Same-Sex Marriages

The ABCs of Sexual Orientation

 

Updated: February 11, 2009 6:35 PM

October Is GLBT History Month