Emilia, 14, Leicester

Many teens in today’s society don’t know what they can do to support the LGBT+ community. With the upcoming celebration of LGBT+ History Month in February, this is a great time to educate schools on how to address the members of this community as well as enlighten those who are not privy to the injustice and prejudice that they have faced over the years and still struggle with today.

During this time many of those proudly out in the world will be put in the spotlight and not always in a good way. Yes, many will have the courage to speak out on behalf of the community, sharing their story and struggles. But many, still not comfortable with societies view of them will receive glances and stares that make them feel alienated. This is the time for the school to educate cisgender and heterosexual students that society welcomes these people with open arms. The role of the school is encouraging students to become a part of the LGBT+ community. This is in the form of an Ally, someone who stands up for the movement for equal rights and supports friends that are coming out.

We must encourage schools to take time out of teaching normal history, that includes prejudice, white supremacy and alienation of those who seem foreign to them and take a moment to learn the people behind the scenes that were silenced. Throughout history, members of the LGBT+ community have been oppressed, and many discriminated against because of their sexuality. These people have also positively impacted history and helped society achieve great things. We must be taught the shocking truth to learn from humanity’s mistakes. This is a time for Heterosexual and cisgender people to show solidarity and empathy to those who feel shunned by society.

Lastly, schools need to create a safe space for those who are questioning their sexuality and are unable to discuss it with parents and friends. This place must be free of judgement and should give guidance as they explore their sexuality. In addition, it must be there for those who have discovered their true self and need help coming out to society and fighting for their community.

Schools must teach us, from history, the pride felt by the LGBT+ community, that love is love and no one will stop us from loving one another.

Emilia, 14, Leicester

lgbt crayons

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Tabitha, 15, Leicester

We are all human and though we should celebrate being open and honest, sexuality and gender identity don’t define us. We should see people for their personality, unique talents and accomplishments, and this person to me absolutely embodies that. My favourite LGBT+ historical figure: Alan Turing.

Alan Turing was a British Mathematician born in 1912, and without him, it is likely that an entire branch of science would not exist. He worked at the secret military code-breaking facility, Bletchley Park, and was a pioneer behind the cracking of the enigma code and the saving of thousands of lives during the second world war. In doing so, he had created the world’s first computer, a machine that could do the work of twenty men in a fraction of the time when it came to code-breaking and was undoubtedly the first of the many of its kind we use today. Think about a world without computers. The weight of the mobile phone in your pocket disappears, the laptop on your desk disappears, but not just that, your electric kettle, your washing machine, your car with its digital sensors, all are gone. Without computers, we are catapulted back to the turn of the 20th century. In a world without Turing’s computer, some people reading this might not exist, their ancestors being killed in the bombings that we never had the chance to stop.

I am trying to convey with this just how world-altering one individual can be. Turing was a remarkable man and yet in life, he had faded into obscurity. Due to the official secrets act, the public never knew how much he had contributed to the war effort. He lived, unrecognised for his talents, except by those who were working with him, and died alone. Before his death, he had been charged with ‘Gross Indecency’ for being gay and was given two choices: a prison sentence or chemical castration. He chose the latter, which had a devastating effect on his health and wellbeing and though a friend said he bore his treatment with “amused fortitude”, it is suspected to be the motive for his untimely death. He died in 1954 at the age of 41, by cyanide poisoning. The cause is suspected to be self-inflicted.

And the queen only removed the charge of ‘Gross Indecency’ in 2013, almost 60 years after his death.

We should remember Alan Turing and what he did for us every time we take our amazing technology for granted. It is a privilege and a luxury now, but back then, it was vital to our winning the whole war and had the power to change our entire way of life. If you want to learn more about Turing and his work, I recommend the http://www.turingarchive.org/ or the excellent film ‘The Imitation Game’ made in 2014.

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alan-Turing

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/

Tabitha, 15, Leicester

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