By Amber Roos
In February, Amsterdam University College (AUC) will celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month. In 2005 this month was first celebrated in the UK to acknowledge struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces and to promote equality. At AUC the month will include many different events which will be organised by several bodies at AUC, namely AUC’s Health and Well-being team (including Peer Support), the Diversity Commission, CUT (AUC’s film committee), and other staff and student representatives.
LGBTQ+ History Month can be seen as a clear opposition to the Nashville statement, an anti-LGBTQ+ declaration which has recently caused controversy in The Netherlands. Lela Roos, a second-year Sciences major, Diversity Ambassador and member of Peer Support, notes that the organising of AUC’s LGBTQ+ History Month started before these events. However, in promoting the month on social media the Nashville statement has been opposed by the organisers.
“People, especially in more liberal societies – such as the Netherlands – forget that the struggle for queer rights and recognition is far from over,” says Gabrielė Plukaitė, a second-year Humanities major and member of CUT.
“There is often this assumption that there is no longer a need to pay attention to LGBTQ+ issues, and that marriage equality marks the end of any inequality, while in fact there are many more issues at play,” says Aedan Lamers, a second-year Sciences major and member of the Diversity Commission. “I know from experience that even the smallest gesture of acknowledgement and support of your identity can make a huge difference in terms of feeling welcome, comfortable and heard at a university, and I think this month will have that effect for AUC.”
Seeing as AUC prides itself on its diversity, several of the involved students believe the university has a special role to play. “I think that as an educational institution in such a historic city as Amsterdam we have a certain obligation to highlight the parts of history that have been hidden from our current conception of [it]” says Bluma Brecher, a first-year Social Sciences student and member of the Diversity Commission.
“Since AUC positions itself as a college that highly values diversity, I think it has a responsibility to encourage diversity among its students and to make sure that all kinds of students feel welcome, respected and represented,” says Lamers. ”Months like this are one way of doing this, as they spread information, provide students with support and allow students to connect to one another.”
As Lamers, Plukaitė notes the importance of going beyond acknowledgement to action. “The history month is not merely for waving flags,” she says, “it is an opportunity for this institution to […] rethink ways in which it can contribute to actual, and not only seeming, diversity at AUC.”