Cecilia Leonards; Natascha Hahn; Ieva Simanavičiūtė; and Tom De Boer

In this chapter, we have used several terms including ‘’LGBTQ+’’, ‘’gender identity’’, and ‘’queer’’. We acknowledge that not everyone will identify with these terms. There are also many different cultural understanding and terms for sexuality and gender diversity.

With this chapter we aim to;

  1.  Raise awareness .
  2.  Share some experiences from the LGBTQ+ community.
  3.  Provide new teachers with inclusive ideas, activities, and resources.


In the 1980s, the acronym ‘LGBT’ started to replace the word gay, which was previously used to describe everyone who was not heterosexual. LGBT was an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (Ritschel,2020). It starts with an L to bring more attention to gay women, as early initiatives were mostly centred around men (Connecticut Clearinghouse, n.d.).  The acronym has grown over time as did understandings of sexual identity and sexuality. Due to this new understanding, the acronym has grown over time. A fifth letter, Q,  now generally gets added at the end of the acronym. The Q stands for queer or questioning (Ritschel,2020).

In recent years the acronym has expanded even more, it now includes an I and A. The I in the acronym represents intersex, while the A at the end has multiple meanings. It represents people who identify as agender or asexual (Ritschel, 2020).

However, those are not the only changes that were made on the acronym as more and more letters have been added to incorporate the various gender and sexual identities. LGBTTQQIAAP is the acronym that it has grown to today, but even this one does not represent everyone. Therefore, a plus sign has been added to the end of LGBTQ+, to represent everyone that does not identify with any of the letters that are used in the acronym. It also is used to show the realities and experience of the people who are part of the LGBT community (Ritschel,2020).

As new letters are getting added to the acronym frequently, it is difficult to keep up with the definitions of every single letter that can be found. Therefore, a small glossary is added to the end of this chapter.

A Bit of History

The authors want to provide a bit of history to raise awarness that LGBTQ+ issues are not new and that societal norms and values are diverse within and between different time periods, including today.

Ancient Greece and Rome

According to Georgiades  (2004) a common form of same-sex sex relationships in ancient Greece was between adult men and pubescent or adolescent boys. In Ancient Greece, marriages were age-structured, with men in their thirties commonly taking wives in their early teens. They did not differentiate between a homosexual and heterosexual. If someone were a free adult citizen in ancient Greece, they could, in addition to their young lover, have a woman lover, and/or use the services of prostitutes.

In the Roman empire, married men could enjoy sexual relations with their male slaves without fear of criticism from their peers. According to Williams (2010), homosexuality was not an important issue for Romans; neither was heterosexuality. Romans were not encouraged by their cultural heritage to categorise. They did not evaluate or judge sexual acts and agents based on whether only males or males and females were involved.

19th/20th century Europe

In Western Europe, homosexuality was considered to be against societal norms, and was considered by many in power to be sinful. People who were suspected of being homosexual could be arrested and/or killed. Karoly Maria Kertbeny was the first journalist/writer who used the terms ‘homosexual’ and ‘heteroxexual’ in the 1860s in his writing calling for the abolition of criminal laws on ‘unnatural acts’ and in his advocacy for human rights.

The period around the beginning of the 20th century was characterised by the development of openly homosexual organizations and advocacy movements. In Germany, gay soldiers who survived the First World War believed that their governments should respect their identities and their rights.

“In 1921 Magnus Hirschfeld launched a series of world congresses…which led to the constitution of a World League for Sexual Reform, (Tamagne, 2006 p.81).” It was the first global organization to advocate for gay rights.  The organisation had the following demands:

  • – Right to divorce
  • – Equality of women with men
  • – Promotion of safe birth control
  • – Equal rights for homosexuals.

In pre-war Germany, as Hitler rose to power, homosexuality was once again considered a sin and a crime and many men and women were imprisoned and killed for practicing and/or advocating for their human rights.

According to Herzog (2011), sexual conservatism increased in the Soviet Union after the Second World War out of guilt, fear, immeasurable exhaustion, loss of a fundamental longing for stability, and security in the wake of deprivation and disaster.  They made efforts to re-establish traditional family structures, paternal authority and stricter measures. (Herzog 2011). This was also true for other countries trying to reestablish ‘traditional’ values and gender roles.

During the student movements and advocacy of the 1960s and 1970s, the popular slogan at the height of the student revolts was “The more I make love, the more I make revolution.” (Herzog, 2013). Lesbian and gay liberation movements emerged in the early 1970s in many Western European nations. That often happened spontaneously and without initially knowing about each other’s existence.

Modern Times

In the early 1980s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic emerged and in general, governmental and media responses were disastrous and deadly. It is only because of the hard work and advocacy by global HIV/AIDs movements, individuals and organizations that perspectives and laws regarding sexual identities and sexual diversity changed for the better.

In the first years of the 21st century, the Netherlands and the German state of Baden-Württemberg made a change in the policies. The Netherlands was in 2001 the first country in the world to legalise same-gender marriage. Another major policy change they both made was to receive German or Dutch citizenship as an immigrant; they did not only have to demonstrate their knowledge of the Dutch or German language history and laws. As immigrants, they had to testify to the government their comfort about homosexuality and same-sex independence. (Herzorg, 2011). Currently, there are 29 countries in the would where same-sex marriage is legally recognized. There are now 33 countries that allow joint adoptions with same-sex couples.










Non binary/ Nonbinary/ Non-binary



Intersection with Disabilities

Many of us who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community encounter discrimination and marginalization throughout our lives.  People who live with disabilities and who are part of the LGBTQ+ community not only have to live with discrimination because of their gender identity and sexuality but also due to their disabilities (Egner,2018). Intersectionality is a theory which examines the overlap of different systems of privilege and oppression (Sheers,2018).

Even though both groups are minorities in society, individuals who are part of both communities also get discriminated against within those communities. In society, people with disabilities often are seen as genderless and asexual. This is due to the fact that individuals with disabilities are often seen as a dependent child or as someone that is incapable of reproducing (Sheers,2018).

This perception created by society is also a result of the missing representation in media and research. In the rare cases that those individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ disabled get represented it is often oversimplified, troped and stereotyped. This contributes even more to the problem that they become invisible not only in society but also in their own communities and organisations (Egner,2018).

Further Reading: Crip Theory

One theory that addresses the intersectionality of the disabled community and queer community is crip theory.

An essential point of the theory is the name crip theory itself. The choice to use the word crip, which is usually seen as a highly degrading word, is meant to be provocative and should encourage individuals to use it for themselves and feel pride (Löfgren-Mårtenson,2013).

This theory started to form in recent years, due to the fact that more people outed themselves as both disabled and LGBTQ+. As result, this movement helped to provoke discussions regarding stereotypes of disabled sexualities (Sheers,2018). Crip theory is built upon the critical view of queer theory. Both theories critique the perception of normativity. While queer theory criticizes heterosexuality, crip theory delves into able-bodiedness. (Löfgren-Mårtenson,2013)

Crip theory concerns itself with the problem that some identities and bodies are seen as abnormal while others are perceived as normal. It also has a closer look at experiences of sexuality. This is done in a pursuit to overthrow ableism (Egner,2018). As Egner (2018) states “Crip theorists recognize that the oversimplification of identities and lack of recognition of the complexity of human experiences contribute to practices that de-normalize and stigmatize groups of people”. For these theorists, it is of relevance how disabled minds and bodies are depicted, spoken about and seen by media and able-bodied individuals (Egner,2018).

















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Inclusive Perspectives in Primary Education Copyright © 2021 by Cecilia Leonards; Natascha Hahn; Ieva Simanavičiūtė; and Tom De Boer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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