ITHACA, NY—Coming so closely on the heels of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the designation of the Stonewall Inn as a national monument is giving members of the LGBT community something to celebrate. And according to one educator on LGBT issues, it is helping shine a new light on that community’s history of struggle.
Stonewall is considered the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement, where in June of 1969 patrons of the Greenwich Village gay bar fought back against police persecution. Announced today by President Obama, the Stonewall National Monument is the first addition to the National Park System specifically highlighting the LGBT community.
“It can still be quite difficult for people — LGBT people and non-LGBT people alike — to know our history,” said Luca Maurer. “It’s rarely taught in our schools, families or communities. It is in many respects a hidden history, due to discrimination, stigma and fear. This designation casts light on the people who made today’s continuing work toward equal rights possible; those on whose shoulders we stand.”
The program director for Ithaca College’s Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Education, Outreach and Services, Maurer is co-author of the new book “The Teaching Transgender Toolkit: A Facilitator’s Guide to Increasing Knowledge, Decreasing Prejudice & Building Skills.” He has given numerous presentations as a consultant/trainer on such topics as sexual orientation, gender identity, disability issues and HIV/AIDS, and served on the editorial board of the American Journal of Sexuality Education.
“Coming so soon after the Pulse nightclub killings, around the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling guaranteeing the right to same-sex marriage, and at the height of harsh rhetoric and continued legislative and policy efforts to deny LGBT people basic rights, the timing of this designation has special resonance,” said Maurer.
He cautions, however, that simply honoring history is not enough.
“Today, we are still very much enmeshed in this struggle. And today, LGBT people most at risk for disenfranchisement and discrimination continue to frequently experience these at the intersections of racism, transphobia and homophobia.”