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Victorian Schools Will Hold An LGBTI History Month In October

"We're harder to find in the history, but we're always there."

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The Safe Schools Coalition will launch an LGBTI history month in Victorian schools in October.

Gay Rights march, George Street, Sydney, 15 July 1978, photograph by Geoff Friend, courtesy Geoff Friend and Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Run by Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, which is separate from the Safe Schools Coalition in all other Australian states and territories, history month will emulate similar efforts to learn about LGBTI history in the US and UK.

Safe Schools Victoria director Roz Ward told BuzzFeed News the organisation tried to incorporate LGBTI content into various subjects, and history is a natural fit.

"LGBTI diversity has always existed in Australia. There is a history of LGBTI people," she said.

"It can be that we’re harder to find in the history, but we're always there. And it's about putting the current period into historical perspective."

Val Eastwood - Openly lesbian proprietor of Val’s Coffee Lounge (Melbourne) - Val dressed for the Oaks, 1960s, unidentified photographer, Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Co-sponsored by LGBTI youth charity Minus18 and the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives, history month will launch on October 10.

To celebrate the month, schools will receive a collection of five posters with themes such as "love", "work" and "family", featuring prominent moments and people from Australia's LGBTI history.

The posters include cafe proprietor Val Eastwood, founders of Australia's first gay and lesbian magazine John Ware and Christabel Poll, and images of the first Mardi Gras parade, which was met with police violence and arrests in 1978.

Safe Schools will also distribute a teacher toolkit.

Ride with Pride - Pride March, Melbourne, 1995, photograph by Graham Willett, Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

One of the posters features the "Young, Gay and Proud" book, released in 1978 and aimed at young gay people. Much like the Safe Schools Coalition, which has come under sustained criticism since February, the book proved controversial at the time.

"There’s always been resistance," Ward said. "Having an LGBTI history month launching this year, it’s really important as a way of providing young people with a perspective on what’s happening now and what might happen in the future."

John Ware and David Widdup / photograph by Phillip Potter (Sydney, NSW : CAMP NSW, 1972), courtesy Phillip Potter and Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

The Safe Schools Victoria Facebook page has been besieged by homophobic comments since the history month announcement was picked up and shared by several anti-Safe Schools pages earlier this week.

"We know there are people who will say this is all part of some agenda they already oppose – but in the whole Safe Schools debate, none of those voices have been teachers or schools," Ward said.

Ward added that she hoped the month could, over time, grow into a broader community event across Australia.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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