During Women’s History Month, we often see familiar figures featured on our Instagram feeds and praised in news stories. Most people are aware of the accomplishments of women like Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony, and these women should certainly be celebrated for their contributions to society.
However, it is less likely that we have heard of women like Brenda Howard, a bisexual woman who planned the first LGBTQ+ Pride event in 1970, or Deborah Batts, the first openly gay federal judge in the United States.
Although we as a society have become more aware of the importance of amplifying LGBTQ+ voices, we still live in a culture of heteronormativity, which, according to Merriam-Webster, is “ the attitude that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality.”
As a result of this attitude, the stories of LGBTQ+ people are often swept under the rug. LGBTQ+ figures like Batts and Howard are not often studied in schools, and heterosexuality is still privileged in many sectors of society.
If we are not exposed to the accomplishments and history of people outside of the gender binary, we miss an opportunity to uplift and celebrate them. This is especially important to consider during Women’s History Month. By failing to recognize LGBTQ+ women and female-identifying people during a month designed to support all women, we only add to their marginalization.
We at the Guilfordian believe that students can make a conscious effort to include and support all women during Women’s History Month, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Global Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) website features profiles of influential LGBTQ+ women, and we encourage students to educate themselves about the contributions of these women.
In supporting the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to remember to ask for someone’s pronouns upon meeting them, to use gender-neutral terms when possible to include all sexualities and gender identities and to avoid making assumptions about the sexual orientation or romantic relationships of others. These actions, among others, will help to make Guilford a more inclusive and less heteronormative space.