How did the movement for LGBT equality go from assimilation to “coming out” in the 1950s-1970s?

In this lesson students learn about the divers perspectives and organizations that shaped the movement for LGBTQ equality from the 1950s through the 1970s. Students will participate in a simulation where they play the role of members of specific, historically significant organizations that emerged in the LGBT movement between 1950-1970s, trying to form a united coalition and make decisions about the big political questions of the day. Students will have to collaborate to write and present statements that represent their organization’s perspective in a political conference that will last 3 rounds. In each round they will discuss and debate a major event/topic in the historical LGBT movement. Then they will vote on proposals. Ostensibly, the group will try to reach consensus but the goal is greater understanding of the arguments, experiences and material conditions that shaped the movement. This lesson aligns with LGBT history month and could be incorporated into a larger unit on the Civil Rights movement (understanding the mechanics of movement building, how oppressed groups achieved civil rights). Students will be able to: analyze the historical context and major political ideas in the movement for LGBT right between 1950-­1975. Students will read, discuss and analyze primary and secondary source historical documents in small groups. Students will collaborate to write and orally present historical arguments in a simulated political conference.

How did Harvey Milk and the Briggs Initiative unite marginalized groups?

In this lesson, students will analyze the purpose of the Briggs Initiative (Prop 6), which was on the California general election ballot in 1978. The referendum sought to ban gays and lesbians, and potentially supporters of gays and lesbians, from working in California’s public schools. Then, students will evaluate voices of those opposed to the initiative by reading posters and flyers. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official, was a key political figure that led the debate against people like Senator John Briggs and Anita Bryant. Additionally, the Briggs Initiative was challenged by other marginalized groups including African Americans, feminists, and unionists. Finally, students will conduct a close reading of Harvey Milk’s speech given after the defeat of the Briggs Initiative on June 25, 1978 at California’s Gay Freedom Day. The lesson may take 90-­120 minutes depending on the reading level of students and the language support needed. To divide the lesson into two days, it is suggested that the close read be done on day 2.

Gay Pioneers

Gay Pioneers is the story of the first organized annual “homosexual” civil rights demonstrations held in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC from 1965-69. When few would publicly identify themselves as gay, these brave pioneers challenged pervasive homophobia.

The Lavender Menace (Lesbian Feminist Movement)

Length: 50 minutes

This lesson covers the contributions of the Lavender Menace, or Lesbian Feminist movement, of the 1970s to the general Second Wave Feminist movement, as well as the limitations and downfalls of Lesbian Feminism.

The AIDS Epidemic (1 of 3): The Government’s Response

This lesson plan seeks to examine the ways in which the United States government ignored a disease that took thousands of American lives. It will debunk fallacies about HIV/AIDS and use the history of AIDS in the US to analyze how powerful activism can be.

The AIDS Epidemic (3 of 3): Community Healing – The National AIDS Memorial Grove

This lesson seeks to bridge students’ own experiences with mourning and healing to those of people affected by the AIDS crisis. It is vital that students understand the serious impact that the AIDS epidemic had and continues to have on lives. In the course of these three connected lesson plans, students will be mentally prepared to enter into the healing space of The Grove.

Women’s Rights

How and why was the Declaration of Sentiments modeled after the Declaration of Independence?