RHS LGBT+ Histories and Historians Report

28 September 2020

The Royal Historical Society has today launched its LGBT+ Histories and Historians report and resources. This is the fourth report on equality and inequality in UK History produced by the Society since 2015.  

LGBT+ Histories and Historians finds many examples of good practice, but also concerning evidence of discrimination, marginalisation and prejudice towards LGBT+ historians at all levels from undergraduate students to senior practitioners.

The Working Group that co-authored the report emphasise the importance of including LGBT+ and queer historians, histories and perspectives in academic teaching and research, as well as in museums, galleries, archives and libraries.

The report is made available in accessible and print-friendly formats, and is accompanied by a series of online resources intended to support the report’s recommendations, and demonstrate some of the variety of existing approaches to LGBT+ history.

 

Key findings include:

  • 1 in 4 LGBT+ staff have witnessed homophobic, transphobic or biphobic behaviour, attitudes or decisions between staff
  • 1 in 3 LGBT+ undergraduate historians have witnessed homophobic, transphobic or biphobic behaviour and/or attitudes between students.
  • 1 in 5 LGBT+ historians were hesitant or uncomfortable, or did not feel able to disclose their LGBT+ identity to colleagues and students.
  • 1 in 3 LGBT+ staff in History felt unsure, or did not think that they would be supported in challenging reluctance about, or hostility to, the teaching of LGBT+ histories in their department/classroom.
  • Within university settings, knowledge of equalities legislation and institutional policies to support diversity and inclusion is poor, even among senior staff.

 

Download the Report and Access the Resources

 

Professor Margot Finn, RHS President said:

Enhanced awareness, knowledge and understanding of LGBT+ experiences—and active work to disrupt discriminatory behaviours—will not only improve the day-to-day learning and working conditions of all students and all staff in History but also enrich the breadth and quality of teaching, research and public engagement in our discipline more broadly.  Attention to equality, diversity and inclusion continues to matter in pandemic times. As we grapple with the enormous challenges posed by coronavirus, educational, cultural and heritage organisations all need new ways of engaging with existing audiences and welcoming new ones.

 

Professor Frances Andrews, who led the working group that produced the report added:

As the first RHS vice-president for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, I am truly delighted to see this report published. It is the result of much hard work, careful discussion and analysis. Our 2019 survey showed us the vibrancy of LGBT+ and queer histories but the report also contains findings that are depressingly familiar.  Too many LGBT+ colleagues and students face a lack of understanding, or discrimination. We found pervasive unfamiliarity with equalities legislation and a reluctance to embrace LGBT+ histories in teaching, research or museum displays. Our report also underscores the difficulties faced by transgender historians. The report includes recommendations for improvement, and online resources to help that process.