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Stonewall and Beyond: Gay and Lesbian Issues
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students


When police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay nightclub in Greenwich Village, on June 28, 1969, gays and lesbians fought back. This marked a turning point in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights in the United States. And more than three decades later, the struggle still continues. In this lesson, students examine the issues that now surround the quest for gay and lesbian equal rights. They explore bias and negative stereotyping in the media and their effect on how gays and lesbians are treated. Along the way, students will examine their own biases and express their opinions on the topic of gay and lesbian rights in a newspaper editorial.

Grade Level: 9-12

Time Allotment: 5 fifty-minute class periods

Subject Matter: History/English

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • develop an understanding of how bias and negative stereotypes affect the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
  • examine different perspectives on the subject of gay and lesbian rights and role-play these different views.
  • analyze examples of gay and lesbian stereotyping in the media and popular culture and create an advertisement, song, or television show that expresses this understanding.
  • write an editorial that exhibits an understanding of the issues involved in the gay and lesbian rights movement.

National Standards:

Standard 1: United States History Standard from the National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS): National Standards for History, Basic Edition, 130-131
  • major contemporary social issues and the groups involved (e.g., the current debate over affirmative action and to what degree affirmative action policies have reached their goals. )
  • the evolution of government support for the rights of the disabled; the emergence of the gay liberation movement and civil rights of gay Americans.
  • continuing debates over multiculturalism, bilingual education, and group identity and rights vs. individual rights and identity.
  • successes and failures of the modern feminist movement.
Standard 3: Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing, from Council for Basic Education:
  • Uses precise and descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas and supports different purposes (e.g., to stimulate the imagination of the reader, to translate concepts into simpler or more easily understood terms, to achieve a specific tone, to explain concepts in literature)

State Standards:

Standard 4: New York State Social Studies Standards, from the New York State Education Department

Students will:
  • analyze the development of American culture, explaining how ideas, values, beliefs, and traditions have changed over time and how they unite all Americans
  • describe the evolution of American democratic values and beliefs as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the New York State Constitution, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other important historical documents

This lesson was prepared by: Bay Breeze Educational Resources