Creative ways to mark LGBTQ+ History Month in your school

Explore, embed and honour LGBTQ+ history within your lesson plans

8 February 2022

With the arrival of February marking the start of LGBTQ+ History Month, there is no better time to explore, embed and honour LGBTQ+ history – as well as the present-day and future possibilities of LGBTQ+ life, work, and play – within your lesson plans. Given the theme of this year’s commemorative month is ‘Politics in Art’, we also want to encourage you to think creatively and compassionately about change and challenges within your setting and society at large, and look to LGBTQ+ figures past and present – from Audre Lorde to Travis Alabanza – for inspiration and insight.

1. Teaching Resources

Our Teaching for Creativity Taster Cards provide examples of how to practise the Creative Habits of Mind through a range of quick, playful activities. Many would be suitable for LGBTQ+ history as a starting point but, in particular, check out the ‘See, Think Wonder’ cards in both the Primary and Secondary set for a specific example.

The Proud Trust and Stonewall also have a variety of educational resources – from fact sheets to e-books – to support the creative teaching of LGBTQ+ history across the key stages.

2. Schools OUT UK

Schools OUT UK, the founding organisers of LGBT(Q+) History Month in the UK, have dedicated an entire website to amplifying the month’s mission and extending its reach throughout the year. Here you can find a variety of classroom resources – including SEND lesson plans that pose important and accessible lines of enquiry about love, and a PowerPoint template to accompany early conversations about affirming difference and diversity – and even a printable wallchart that highlights the contributions LGBTQ+ individuals, organisations, and labour unions have made to society throughout the years.

3. Reading Lists and Specific Titles

In light of this year’s LGBTQ+ History Month’s theme, it is fitting to look to literature that centres the illustrative arts alongside messages of inclusivity. Check out LGBTQ+ reading lists from the Scottish Book Trust and Stonewall as a starting point.

As for specific titles, Queer: A Graphic History – a pleasingly comprehensive guide to queer theory written by Meg-John Barker and illustrated by Jules Scheele – is filled with drawings that playfully tie the text together. Juno Dawson’s Proud: Stories, Poetry and Art on the Theme of Pride connects the words of emerging and established LGBTQ+ literary talent with complementary sketches by queer artists. Likewise, Loud and Proud: LGBTQ+ Speeches that Empower and Inspire written by Tea Uglow – captures the power of words spoken over the years by activists and allies alike, and connects those words to stylised photographic portraits.

Loud and Proud, with its focus on the importance and lasting impact of the spoken word, can also be linked to our ‘Speeches That Changed The World’ Teaching for Creativity activity to further understanding of inclusive language and rhetorical devices.

4. Drag Queen Story Hour and Petite Pantos

History is not the preserve of (history) books. As well as on the page, you can encounter the collision of LGBTQ+ history and contemporary queer culture on the stage – and, increasingly, on-screen. Drag Queen Story Hour UK provides storytelling shows – hosted by drag performers with experience in cultural and educational settings – that are almost as interactive, and just as engaging, on digital platforms as they are when performed live.

Similarly, Petite Pantos incorporates drag and inclusive themes to update the traditional art of pantomime into something timelier and of more relevance to today’s young audiences. Mama G – Petite Pantos’ ‘resident panto dame’ – also performs storytelling shows that are SEND-friendly, with BSL being a customary feature.

5. Galleries and Museums

Art offers a great way to explore LGBTQ+ history, and Art UK has compiled a selection of learning resources sourced from art spaces (galleries, museums, private collections) across the country. This compilation is filled with excellent entry points to topics of queer liberation, autonomy and community – amongst other topics – and all resources can be accessed in both classrooms and home learning settings.

The University of Exeter’s Sex and History Project – an initiative that uses historical artefacts as the foundation for RSE-focussed discussions – has a website dedicated to LGBTQ+ related artefacts from across the world. You could also use Serpentine Galleries’ ‘Cracks in the Curriculum’ resource to support RSE in an exploratory, informed and artistic way. And Queer Britain – the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum – is set to open its doors later this year, making a trip to London’s Granary Square a must.

6. CPD and Signposting

It is important that everyone – teachers, support staff, and students alike – feels properly equipped to navigate the kinds of discussions, disclosures and learnings LGBTQ+ History Month can result in.

A number of organisations offer CPD courses and supplementary resources – from Educate & Celebrate’s whole staff training sessions (paid) to Just Like Us’s downloadable toolkit (free), from The Classroom’s regular LGBTQ+ bulletins (free) to the School of Sexuality Education’s RSE consultancy sessions (paid) – to help you make sure your setting is as inclusive as it can be and to ensure your approaches to matters of sensitivity are in line with best practice.

LGBTQ+ youth charities Mosaic Trust and Wise Thoughts both also offer pastoral support, drop-in counselling sessions, and a sense of community rooted in intersectionality and creativity – all worth signposting.

7. Search on LookUp

Find more resources from arts and cultural organisations on our LookUp site, using the LGBTQ History Month tag, with new resources being added throughout the month.

Search more LGBTQ+ resources on LookUp

What have we missed?

Are you a teacher who has great ideas about how to help children learn to love reading? We would love to hear your tips!

Let us know on Twitter – tag @A_New_Direction and include the hashtag #CreativeTipsForTeachers. You can also email us your ideas or share them with other teachers in our Creative Teaching Community.

Image: alicia_mb / Freepik