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.

Effects of the Civil War

This lesson addresses the effects of the Civil War on multiple populations. Students learn about the unprecedented scale of death and destruction, and what that meant for the country that needed to rebuild and heal at the end of the war. They also study the experiences of Americans who did not serve as soldiers. The varied roles of women, African Americans, and the people who cared for the wounded all provide students with an up-close and complex understanding of the meaning of war. Students also learn about longer term consequences of the war, including Lincoln’s assassination, as well as the physical destruction of much of the south. Moreover, they will come away with a picture of how warfare, and the country in general would never look the same after 1865 as the federal government took a vast new size and shape. This lesson also encourages students to understand the importance of perspective and complexity. It asks them to consider different people’s experiences and synthesize this information to make interpretations about the significance of the war. Specific literacy strategies help students make sense of multiple primary sources.

What were men and women’s experiences of World War I?

While the battles of World War I primarily took part in Europe, the effects of the war reached around the world. Men, women, and children experienced the consequences of the conflict. Men volunteered or were conscripted into the military to fight on the battlefields. The success of each side’s military required not only manpower, but weapons, food, and supplies. These materials had to be produced at home or in the colonies, which required women to take on duties that were not considered feminine roles, such as working in factories and farming. Because entire societies were mobilized to support the war effort, World War I is considered a total war.

Were the 1920s a time of cultural change?

In this lesson, students will learn about changes and continuities in the 1920s, particularly focused on cultural and social areas. Students will analyze primary and secondary sources that explore race, gender, and sexuality in the 1920s.

Two Spirit and Non-Traditional Families

This lesson seeks to introduce students to different family models, specifically through comparing American and Native American culture. This lesson also seeks to define what it means to be Two Spirit and to discuss personal family narratives.

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.

Crash Course in Intersectionality

Length: 50 minutes

This lesson serves to introduce students the concept of intersectionality to help them gain a new framework for better examining themselves and how they fit into the world around them.