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.

Why and how did activists respond to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s?

In this lesson, students will engage in the historical context of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s exploring a timeline of major events and government responses to understand reasons for anger and unrest in the LGBT community. After establishing historical context, students will analyze activist responses looking specifically at different goals and methods used by the activist organization ACT-­UP/Los Angeles.

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.

Stonewall Riots

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a police raid of the Stonewall Inn exploded into a riot when patrons of the LGBT bar resisted arrest and clashed with police. The Stonewall Riots are widely considered to be the start of the LGBT rights movement in the United States. In this lesson, students analyze four documents to answer the question: What caused the Stonewall Riots?

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.

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.: Hate Crimes Prevention Act

This lesson provides an opportunity for middle and high school students to understand the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, learn about how hate escalates, connect the understanding of the escalation of hate with Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.’s murders and consider what young people can do in their schools and communities to prevent hate crimes.

What is a Hate Crime?

In this lesson, students learn the definition of “hate” and how to use alternate words, discover and understand how national laws are made and apply that understanding to the concept of government protection.

Critiquing Hate Crimes Legislation

In this lesson, students learn to access, study and compare primary-source documents, to research and organize information and to plan, organize and execute a live performance.

The History and Impact of Anti-LGBT Slurs

In this lesson students listen to the oral history of an advocate for LGBT family rights, and use her personal story as a vehicle for considering how anti-LGBT attitudes are formed. Students explore the derivation of the words “gay,” “f*ggot” and “d*ke” in order to better understand the long history of judgment and hate behind these words. They also reflect on the testimony of LGBT teens about the impact of terms like “that’s so gay.”