Tuesday, October 30, 2012

LGBT History Month: Society for Human Rights

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The Society for Human Rights was the first gay rights organization in the United States.  It was established in 1924 in Chicago by Henry Gerber who was inspired to create it by German Doctor Magnus Hirschfeld's work with the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee.

Its goals as outlined on their application for charter as a non-profit organization in Illinois, were:
[T]o promote and protect the interests of people who by reasons of mental and physical abnormalities are abused and hindered in the legal pursuit of happiness which is guaranteed them by the Declaration of Independence and to combat the public prejudices against them by dissemination of factors according to modern science among intellectuals of mature age. The Society stands only for law and order; it is in harmony with any and all general laws insofar as they protect the rights of others, and does in no manner recommend any acts in violation of present laws nor advocate any manner inimical to the public welfare. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Human_Rights)
The Society's newsletter, Friendship and Freedom, was the first LGBT publication in the US although few members wanted it mailed to them as they were considered obscene materials and illegal to mail until 1958 when the Supreme Court ruled that homosexual content did not automatically imply obscene materials.  Only two issues were ever produced.

A few months after being chartered, the group dismantled when several members were arrested.  Despite its small numbers and short existence, the Society for Human Rights was the precursor to today's LGBT Rights Movement.


Also this month:

~ October is also National Bullying Prevention Month.

~ October 10th was Unity Day; wear orange to show your support and remind others about the importance of bullying prevention.

~ October 11th was National Coming Out Day when we celebrate coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as an ally. See the Human Rights Campaign website for resources on coming out.

~ October 19th is Spirit Day; wear purple on this day to support LGBT youth & stand up against bullying.


Unknown said...

Hey, do you think that I could get a copy of the Society for Human Rights Charter? I'm doing my Illinois History Fair exhibit on the society and I would love to have a copy!

Unknown said...