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.

Were the 1950s truly the “dark ages” for gay Americans as some historians have claimed?

Students will analyze 6 -10 (or more depending on the class) primary and secondary sources. These sources will serve as historical evidence for students as they determine their response to the inquiry question. After students read and annotate each source, they will then collaborate and create a DBQ Poster. The DBQ poster process requires students 1) to sort the sources into 2 or more categories, 2) to consider all historically relevant content and 3) construct a group thesis that directly answers the inquiry question.

To what extent was the movement for LGBT rights part of the broader movement for Civil Rights?

In this lesson, teachers will contextualize the LGBT rights movement by answering the question introduced in the History-­Social Science Framework for California Public Schools: “How did various movements for equality build upon one another?” While activists fighting for LGBT rights utilized similar tactics and had some shared goals of those fighting for Civil Rights broadly, LGBT people in racial minority communities faced additional discrimination. Moreover, many fighting for broader Civil Rights did not consider sexual preference or gender identity as apart of their fight. In this lesson, students will explore historical perspectives to determine to what extent the movement for LGBT rights was or was not part of the broader movement for Civil Rights of the 1970s and 1980s. Students will read, annotate and categorize several primary sources to write a short essay describing and supporting their prospective with evidence from the texts.

Through analyzing Audre Lorde’s essay on multiple identities and systems of oppression, how do power and privilege impact the relationships people have with each other as well as with institutions?

In this lesson, students will familiarize themselves with the concept of intersectionality — how intersecting identities and oppressions shape perspectives and experiences. Through the close reading and discussion of the article “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” featured in the influential book Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde, students will think critically about how multiple identities and systems of oppressions impact the relationships people have with each other as well as with institutions. Audre Lorde, Black lesbian poet and feminist writer, signed a contract with The Crossing Press on November 19, 1982 to publish her monumental book Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Sister Outsideris celebrated as a historic piece of literature exploring the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, poverty, and politics.

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.

Stonewall 50

This lesson plan explores the history of LGBTQ Liberation from 1959 - 1979, and is a companion to the exhibit "Stonewall 50: The Spark That Lit the Flame" from the Center on Colfax's Colorado LGBTQ History Project. It includes primary sources and panels from the exhibit designed to weave together, in cooperative small-group learning, the narrative of Stonewall with the LGBTQ history of Denver. Students will use primary sources not widely available, and will understand the context leading up to Stonewall and the changes which occurred there after. From the Mattachine Society, the Black Cat Tavern and Compton's Cafeteria Riot, to the Denver Gay Revolt, Harvey Milk, as well as a detailed timeline of the riots, and the diverse voices there-in. Your students will be among the first generation of Americans to know and tell these stories. Their words will shape the future and change the world. (Includes: Bibliography, Teacher Resources, Understanding By Design, Colorado Content Standards Aligned, Grades 8-12). During this lesson students will answer a question open to historical debate "Why were the Stonewall riots the moment that sparked the LGBTQ Liberation Movement in American History?" Students will then be given panels from the Stonewall 50 history exhibit talking about the history of Stonewall: the events leading up to Stonewall, the events of the riots themselves, and the events and organizations that developed after the riots, such as the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) and Gay Liberation Front (GLF), as well as the first Denver LGBTQ pride event, and the National March on Washington for Gay & Lesbian Rights in 1979. Students will be given 15 minutes to read panels from the exhibit underlining the important names, dates and events. Students will then share what they learned. Students will then create their own posters outlining the events of the riots as a formative assessment.