HoW College and LGBT+
HoW College is an inclusive institute that is accepting of all individuals. Whatever your race, religion, sexual preferences or individual identity, we welcome everyone and strive to create a supportive, welcoming and inclusive environment that actively promotes equality.
We’ve set up this page for our students, staff and everyone within our wider community, to help us all learn more about LGBT+; we hope to encourage even further education as a result. We believe it is everyone’s individual responsibility to create an accepting environment, so we as a College would like to help build the foundation for a greater understanding of the various walks of life and how to be respectful, thoughtful and accepting of others life choices.
Below, you will find information on what LGBT+ stands for, some helpful definitions, some LGBT+ history, how to identify and tackle derogatory behaviour towards the LGBT+ community, and of course some resources for further reading and learning should you wish to expand your knowledge. The information below is by no means extensive; however, we hope it is a good starting point for many people.
What is LGBT+?
LGBT+ (also sometimes LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+ or LGBTQIAP+) is an acronym which encompasses various identities and sexual orientations; the ‘+’ symbol is typically used when abbreviating the acronym to indicate the other identities not within the initial letters. According to Stonewall UK (an organisation campaigning for equality across Britain), LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Many often use the shorter version of the acronym (LGBT+) to avoid omitting any individuals by mistake, or to avoid causing offence; some terms such as ‘queer’ are empowering to some people but can also still be considered offensive to many individuals too.
Below, we have sourced definitions from Stonewall to help people identify what the different terminology you may come across means; you can also find information/history on LGBT+ flags and what the colours within them mean.
A word that substitutes a noun; in this case, this is in relation to gender. For example, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’, ‘her’, ‘him’ etc. Most are allocated based on the gender an individual is assigned at birth; however, many choose to identify using different pronouns.
Bi is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender. Bi people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, bisexual, pan, queer, and some other non-monosexual and non-monoromantic identities.
A term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary.
This was used in the past as a more medical term (similarly to homosexual) to refer to someone whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. This term is still used by some although many people now prefer the term trans or transgender.
This might be considered a more medical term used to describe someone who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.
Refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid and non-binary.
An umbrella term used to describe a variation in levels of romantic and/or sexual attraction, including a lack of attraction. Ace people may describe themselves as asexual or aromantic.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
Refers to a man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women or to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men.
Refers to a man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also, a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality - some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian.
Queer is a term used by those wanting to reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can also be a way of rejecting the perceived norms of the LGBT+ community (racism, sizeism, ableism etc). Although some LGBT+ people view the word as a slur, it was reclaimed in the late 80s by the queer community who have embraced it.
Refers to a person whose romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by sex or gender.
Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Non-trans is also used by some people.
A (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community.
The LGBT+ Flag/Pride Flag
The original LGBT+ flag was thought by many to have been created by Gilbert Barker using 8 colours, each of which was assigned a specific meaning. Barker had been challenged by Harvey Milk, American Politician and first openly gay official to be elected, to create a symbol of pride for the gay community.
The colours and meanings were as follows:
(Image sourced from the Gilbert Baker Foundation website).
The Pride flag was first displayed at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day celebration in June 1978; a few months later Harvey Milk was assassinated, following which demand for the Pride flag increased significantly to show support and commemorate Milk’s life. Due to the demand, Barker didn’t have enough hot pink fabric to fulfil all requests; as a result, the 7-colour Pride flag (missing hot pink) was distributed.
In 1979, the community settled on a 6-colour flag for their Pride symbol; some reports state that there were further production issues with the colour turquoise, whereas others state people had issues having an odd number of colours on the flag. Nevertheless, the 6-colour pride flag consisting of red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet became the most common symbol moving forwards.
LGBT+ History: A Timeline of the Last 70 Years
The LGBT+ community has been present for centuries. Even when the term ‘LGBT+’ had not yet been identified, many still expressed who they were, worked to dismantle social norms, and sought equality and acceptance for all. Whether it’s Gilbert Baker, Freddie Mercury, Sir Ian McKellen or Alexander the Great; there have been accounts dating all the way back to 4th century B.C. of LGBT+ individuals.
However, a lot of the progress towards equal rights for the LGBT+ community has been made in the last 70 years or so. There are many significant events in LGBT+ history, however, below we have included a timeline with a few of the most significant occurrences according to Stonewall UK.
1950's and 1960's
1951 - The first known British Trans woman to have reassignment surgery.
Roberta Cowell, a racing driver and World War II fighter pilot, was born in Croydon and studied engineering at University College London (UCL). She underwent a secret procedure in order to get a certificate stating that she was intersex, which in turn enabled her to undergo surgery and gain a new birth certificate.
1957 - The Wolfenden Committee Report.
The Wolfenden Committee (chaired by Sir John Wolfenden) publishes a report over 150 pages long after a three-year enquiry, recommending that ‘homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence’. Supporters of this recommendation include the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, and the British Medical Association. Despite this, the recommendations are rejected by the Government.
1967 - The decriminalisation of sex between two men over 21.
The Sexual Offences Act decriminalises sex between two men over 21 and ‘in private’. However, this didn’t extend to the Navy, the Armed Forces, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man, where sex between two men remained illegal.
1969 - The Stonewall riots take place in the USA.
During June 1969, the “Stonewall riots” took place because of a police raid on The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. Following discriminatory treatment of the LGBT+ individuals during this raid, people took to the streets in sporadic and intense protests to demand a change within the establishment, and to make a change to LGBT+ rights. Individuals such as Stormé DeLarverie, a gay civil rights icon and entertainer born in New Orleans, and Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender rights activist and self-identified Drag Queen, were reported to have been central figures in the Stonewall uprising. As a result of this event, many Pride celebrations take place in June as an opportunity for everyone to celebrate, march and bring attention to LGBT+ rights.
1970's and 1980's
1971 - The Nullity of Marriage Act.
The Nullity of Marriage Act was passed, explicitly banning same-sex marriages between same-sex couples in England and Wales.
1972 - The first Pride march takes place in London and attracts around 2000 people.
Today, London Pride is thought to be the biggest in the country and aims to provide a platform for those within the LGBT+ community, to raise awareness of current issues, and campaign for freedoms that will allow all to live on equal footings.
1975 - The first political party support for LGBT+ rights occurs.
The Liberal Party (now the Liberal Democrats) became the first UK political party to support LGBT+ rights, passing a motion at conference to support ‘full equality for homosexuals’, including equalising the age of consent.
1982 - Terry Higgins Dies of AIDS in St Thomas' Hospital.
Higgins’ partner Rupert Whittaker, Martyn Butler and friends set up the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s first AIDS charity. A year later, the Government banned men who have sex with men from donating blood due to the AIDS crisis.
1984 - The first openly gay male MP is seen in British politics.
Chris Smith, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, speaks openly about his sexual orientation and becomes the first openly gay MP, 10 years after Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first lesbian MP.
1988 - Margaret Thatcher introduces Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.
The Act stated that councils should not "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”, meaning teachers couldn’t speak about same-sex relationships with their students. This included students coming out to their teachers or tackling homophobic bullying.
This prompted Sir Ian McKellen to come out as gay on BBC Radio. He formed Stonewall with Michael Cashman CBE, Lisa Power MBE and others to lobby against Section 28 and other barriers to equality.
1990's and 2000's
1992 - The World Health Organisation (WHO) declassifies same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
It wasn’t until 1992 when the specialised agency of the United Nations (UN), established in 1948 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, declassified same-sex attraction as a mental illness.
1996 - A landmark case rules that an employee who was about to transition was wrongfully dismissed.
The ‘P vs S and Cornwall County Council’ case was a pivotal moment in LGBT+ history. It was the first piece of case law anywhere in the world which prevented discrimination in employment or vocational education against a trans person. The case took place when a UK trans woman (named as P for the case) was wrongfully dismissed after informing her employers she was going through gender reassignment surgery.
1999 – Former British National Party member, David Copeland, bombs the Admiral Duncan, one of Soho’s oldest LGBT+ bars.
The nail-bomb attack killed three and wounded at least 70; according to the BBC reports at the time, it was thought to have been linked to two previous bombings which had taken place in the three weeks prior in Brick Lane and Brixton.
Following the attack, a large open-air meeting took place in Soho Square and thousands attended. The Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner delivered a speech at the event, marking a turning point in the relationship between the LGBT+ community and the Metropolitan Police.
2000 – Lesbians, Gay men and Bi people can serve in the armed forces for the first time.
It wasn’t until 2000 when the UK Government finally lifted the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the armed forces.
2004 – The Civil Partnership Act passes, granting civil partnership in the UK
The Civil Partnership Act passed 46 years after the Homosexual Law Reform Society was founded in 1958 to campaign for the legalisation of same-sex relationships in the UK. It gave same-sex couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples and almost a decade later in 2013, the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was also passed, legalising same-sex marriages. The Gender Recognition Act also passed in 2004, giving trans people full legal recognition in their appropriate gender. Currently gender options are still limited to ‘male’ and ‘female’, so non-binary and gender-fluid people are not currently recognised under the Act.
2005 - The Adoption and Children Act 2002
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 comes into force allowing unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, to apply for joint adoption.
2010's - Present Day
2016 – Orlando Nightclub shooting takes place.
49 people are killed and 53 people injured after a gunman opens fire in the LGBT+ nightclub Pulse, in Orlando. London and other major cities across the world hold vigils to show solidarity with the victims.
2017 – Changes in UK Education.
Amendments made to the Children and Social Work Bill, which will make relationships and sex education (RSE) mandatory in all schools in England and Wales from 2019.
December 2020 – Further changes made to blood donation rules for Gay men.
According to the BBC, the new criteria focuses on individual behaviours, lifting a blanket ban for any men who have had sex with men in the last three months; such bans have been in place since the AIDS crisis began in the 1980's. The changes mean men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will now be able to donate blood at any time. Previous rulings saw a 12-month celibacy period had to be maintained to give blood, which was gradually reduced to the 3-month celibacy ruling. The changes will be implemented by summer 2021.
Forms of LGBT+ Abuse and Discrimination
The LGBT+ community have long faced oppression, microaggressions and blatant acts of hatred. We have gathered some definitions and examples of the various forms of abuse that you may come across in life. Some can be a little trickier to identify as they are classified as a microaggression; these are acts, statements or incidents which cause indirect (and sometimes unintentional) discrimination against a marginalised group, usually as a result of ignorance. Have a look below to understand what the different types of abuse are and see some examples of blatant abuse and microaggressive abuse.
The fear or dislike of someone, based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people. Homophobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay or bi. (Blatant).
The fear or dislike of someone who identifies as bi based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about bi people. Biphobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, bi. (Blatant).
When a lesbian, gay, bi or trans person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent. (Blatant and can be a microaggression).
If someone is regarded, at a glance, to be a cisgender man or cisgender woman. (Microaggression).
The fear or dislike of someone because they are or are perceived to be a lesbian. (Blatant).
The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including denying their gender identity or refusing to accept it. Transphobia may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, trans. (Blatant).
Calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name. This term is often associated with trans people who have changed their name as part of their transition. (Can be blatant or a microaggression).
Examples of Blatant Acts of Abuse Towards the LGBT+ Community
- Using derogatory slurs related to someone’s orientation such as ‘fag’, ‘dyke’ or ‘homo’.
- Deliberately not calling someone by their chosen pronouns/name; for example, still calling a trans female by their previous male name or calling a trans female ‘he’ still.
- Causing or inciting physical/verbal/emotional violence towards members of the LGBT+ community. This can happen due to directly being aware of and disliking someone’s identity and orientation, or as a result of prejudice based on someone’s perceived identity.
- Criminalisation, penalisation and persecution of those within the LGBT+ community. Such acts are often as a result of state-sponsored homophobia; where government figures may engage in hate speech, incite violence and discrimination against LGBT+ individuals.
- Work-place discrimination; when an LGBT+ individual may receive lesser treatment, be denied opportunities or be dismissed due to their orientation or gender.
Examples of Discreet Acts of Abuse (Microaggressions) Towards the LGBT+ Community
- Using a LGBT+ related slur generally. Many may use phrases such as ‘fag’ or ‘that’s gay’ thinking its banter and not fully understanding the negative connotations behind it (this can commonly occur in school environments). It’s important to understand such terms and not use them at all.
- Calling someone by the incorrect pronoun/name based on a physiological assumption. This often occurs if someone has recently changed their name or pronoun as people can innocently forget, or this can happen if someone is unsure and feels afraid to ask due to not wanting to cause offence. Remember – it’s better to ask, ‘what is your pronoun preference?’ than to guess and cause offence that way.
- Using phrases such as ‘but you don’t look gay’, and making assumptions based on stereotypes, prejudice and ignorance.
- Attributing physical characteristics and mannerisms to an orientation or identity you perceive someone should hold.
- Stereotyping individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or identity; this can also become a blatant act of discrimination. For example, assuming all gay men must love pink and will behave similarly to females. This is also why people insisting they have a ‘Gaydar’ can be a microaggression as it reinforces the pretence of judging a book by its cover and reinforces physical and behavioural stereotypes surrounding the LGBT+ community.
- Endorsement of heteronormative behaviour and/or culture; this can occur when assumptions are made based on gender. For example, when you assume a male must be heterosexual and ask, ‘have you got a girlfriend’ or ‘wife’. This can often be done without ill-intention; however, it can be better to ask whether someone has a ‘partner’ to avoid causing offence.
How to Tackle LGBT+ Abuse and Derogatory Behaviour
When encountering derogatory and offensive behaviours and attitudes, first assess whether it’s suitable to actively do something in the moment; if not, then contact the appropriate people and report the situation. Hate incidents you may encounter can include (but are not limited to):
- Verbal abuse like name-calling
- Physical attacks such as hitting, punching, pushing, spitting
- Threats of violence
- Hoax calls, abusive phone or text messages, hate mail
- Online abuse for example on Facebook or Twitter
- Harm or damage to things such as someone’s home, pet, vehicle
No matter what incident has occurred, it is ALWAYS important to report what you have seen, heard or experienced to someone. Your report could help prevent others experiencing similar in future, and collectively through challenging and reporting such behaviours we can bring an end to hate crimes against LGBT+ individuals. Click the buttons below to see how to report such incidents dependent on your location at the time.
In college, homophobia and other forms of LGBT+ abuse can be reported to one of your lecturers, any nearby member of staff or to the College Welfare service on: 07881 379 252 for Redditch and Bromsgrove campuses, and 07789 754 161 for Worcester and Malvern campuses.
However if the situation is an emergency, always call the police on 999.
Outside of College
If you are outside of college and the situation is an emergency, always contact the police on 999. For non-emergency reports always contact the police on 101. You can also report crime anonymously through the True Vision platform (https://www.report-it.org.uk/your_police_force), and via the Stop Hate UK website (http://www.stophateuk.org/).
Below, we have collated a series of resources which can assist in further learning and offer support. The lists are by no means extensive; however, we hope they provide a good starting point to facilitate further education and understanding into the LGBT+ community.
- Stop Hate UK: http://www.stophateuk.org/ - can report hate crimes against LGBT+ individuals (as well as other forms of hate crimes).
- Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline: https://switchboard.lgbt/
- MindOut: https://mindout.org.uk/ - LGBT+ Mental Health service
- LGBT Foundation: https://lgbt.foundation/helpline - has a helpline, resources and links to other areas to help find support for your specific need.
- Being Gay is Okay (BGIOK): http://www.bgiok.org.uk/ - Advice and information service for those under the age of 25.
- AKT: https://www.akt.org.uk/ - An organisation which supports LGBT+ young people aged between 16 and 25 who are facing/experiencing homelessness or are living in a hostile environment.
- Homo Sapiens: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/homo-sapiens/id1257514825 - A weekly podcast where Alan Cumming and Chris Sweeney speak with new guests about LGBT+ topics. (Available on Apple, Spotify and other streaming platforms).
- Prejudice and Pride: https://soundcloud.com/nationaltrustpodcasts/sets/prejudice-and-pride - 6 part podcast series from the National Trust which looks into British LGBT+ History; hosted by Clare Balding. (Available on Apple and Soundcloud).
- Attitude Heroes: https://play.acast.com/s/attitudemagazine - A podcast series from 2017 created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales. The series ran for a whole year and features incredible guests, including Tom Daley, Ian McKellen, and Gok Wan.
- The Diversity Trust Podcast: https://www.diversitytrust.org.uk/2019/05/the-diversity-trust-podcast-1-christine-burns-transgender-activist-part-1/ - Podcast with Christine Burns MBE, Transgender activist, covering different topics surrounding transgender rights.
Video and Film Resources
- The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (Netflix): “When transgender activist and drag performer Marsha P. Johnson was found dead in the Hudson River in the summer of 1992, friends and fellow activists were shocked. But her death was ruled a suicide by New York City police, and the national media paid little attention. Years later, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson explores her little-investigated death while celebrating her legacy as a pioneer, in the 1960s and beyond, of what would come to be called the LGBTQ rights movement.”
- A Secret Love (Netflix): A documentary following the relationship of two women who kept their love a secret for decades, and the challenges they faced when coming out later in life.
- Disclosure (Netflix): “In this documentary, leading trans creatives and thinkers share heartfelt perspectives and analysis about Hollywood’s impact on the trans community.”
- Do I Sound Gay? (Amazon Prime): “David Thorpe embarks on a journey to explore the origins of his voice; which society has deemed "gay sounding." Embarking on speech therapy and interviewing friends and other gay men about their relationship with their voices, what starts as a quest to make his voice more palatable — for himself and, he believes, those around him — eventually becomes a quest to see why Thorpe's voice makes him feel so self-conscious in the first place.”
- Before Stonewall (YouTube and Amazon Prime): “This documentary investigates national cultural perceptions of homosexuality before the event of Stonewall, looking back on previous decades, particularly in regard to conflicts with police and censorship. In addition to interviews with activists and scholars, the film includes the reflections of renowned writer Allen Ginsberg.”