Stonewall and Beyond: Gay and Lesbian Issues
Procedures for teachers is divided into four sections:
-- Preparing for the lesson
-- Conducting the lesson
-- Additional Activities
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Tolerance.org was created to awaken people of all ages to the problems of hate and intolerance, to equip them with the best tolerance ideas, and to prompt them to act in their homes, schools, businesses and communities. Students will take the "How Tolerant Are You?" test on this site.
The Freedom Coalition
The Freedom Coalition is a grassroots civil rights organization based in Lawrence, Kansas. Students will use this site to explore varied perspectives on the issue of human and gay rights.
Stonewall and Beyond: Lesbian and Gay Culture
This Web site features the Columbia University Libraries online exhibition, "Stonewall and Beyond: Lesbian and Gay Culture". Students will use this site to extend their knowledge of the history of the gay and lesbian rights movement.
Gay/Lesbian Issues at About.com: the Millennium March
This ABOUT site contains information about the Millennium March on Washington. Students will use this site to research a character for the talk show activity.
Bibliography: Gay and Lesbian Characters and Themes in Children's Books
This Web site contains an annotated bibliography for gay and lesbian characters and themes in children's books. Teachers may use this site to extend the topic into their language arts curriculum.
Salon.com news: Should Gays Serve?
A Salon panel debates the ban on homosexuals in the military. Students will use this site to create their character for the talk show.
Gay/Lesbian Issues with Deborah Levinson: Fit to Serve
Students will learn about gays in the military in the article "Fit to Serve". Students will use this site to create a character for the talk show.
The Legal Challenge
This site contains an article chronicling a same-sex marriage. Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
Gay Marriage: The Arguments and Motives
This article presents arguments for and against gay marriage, as well as links to more resources. Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
An American Civil Liberties Union - Freedom Net Work
This site contains the article entitled "A Historic Victory: Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples What's Next!" Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
This link leads to Dr. Laura Schlessinger's Web site. Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
This site contains transcripts from Dr. Laura Schlessinger's show. Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
Set Free: Homosexuality
This page contains an article entitled "Cleaning Out the Closet: A Biblical Look at Homosexuality." Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
This page contains an article on Ellen DeGeneres. This article represents an anti-gay point of view which may be inaccessible beyond school filters. Although this is not critical to the lesson, you may want to print this out and distribute copies to your students. Students will use this site to create their characters for the talk show.
Gay/Lesbian Issues with Deborah Levinson: We Love Hate Mail
Gay/Lesbian Issues with Deborah Levinson - "We Love Hate Mail". This site contains e-mails written by people who oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians. Students will use this site to develop characters for the talk show.
The goal of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is to help change the way that gays and lesbians are portrayed on the screen and in the news. Students will use this site to learn about how gays and lesbians are portrayed in the media and popular culture.
The Commercial Closet
The Commercial Closet is a unique, non-profit education and journalism organization dedicated to charting the evolving worldwide portrayals of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and the transgendered in one of the most powerful cultural media of our time -- mainstream advertising. Students will use this site to learn about how gays and lesbians are portrayed in the media and popular culture.
Lyrics to the edited version of Eminem's Marshall Mathers CD
Introductory Activity: Building Background
(One 50-minute class period for the class discussions - the exact length of time needed for students to take the test will depend on the number of computers available in your classroom.)
Begin the lesson by giving students an indication of where all the lesson's activities will lead. Students will start by examining how anti-gay bias is reflected in the media and popular culture. Then they will explore how biases against gays and lesbians affected their struggle for equal treatment. Next, students will develop a talk show dealing with gay and lesbian rights in which the characters express many different perspectives to help them understand the issues and develop their own positions. Finally, students will compose an editorial that demonstrates their understanding of the issues surrounding gay and lesbian rights.
Tell students that they will create journals in which to record facts, thoughts, or reactions that come up during the course of the activities. Encourage students to reflect in their journals after every class period so that they will have a record of how their understanding grows or changes. Journals will not be criticized or graded so students can use them as a safe place to express their thoughts on the matter. When the time comes to work on their final project, the journals will contain many useful points of reference.
Students will then look at their own personal biases and develop an understanding of how even hidden biases can result in the unequal treatment of the gay and lesbian population. Ask students to complete the online bias test, "Test Yourself for Hidden Biases - How Tolerant Are You?" by selecting "go" at the bottom of the Tolerance.org page.
After completing the test, break the class into small groups to discuss the following questions:
When the groups finish, bring everyone together for a whole-class discussion.
- What were the most surprising things you learned about yourself from this test?
- What do you think are some of the causes of people's biases?
- What do you think are some of the causes of intolerance directed toward gays and lesbians?
- Do you think a lot of people are less tolerant towards the gay and lesbian population than they are toward other populations (e.g., women, African Americans, Latinos)? Explain your answer.
- How do you think biases have an impact on the gay and lesbian fight for equal rights?
Activity One - The Role of the Media & Popular Culture in the Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement
(Four 50-minute class periods. Time may vary depending on the amount of work that is completed outside of the classroom.)
In this activity, students will examine how anti-gay bias is reflected in the media and in popular culture and will reflect on how bias and stereotyping have an impact on equal rights issues. Read the following quotation and discuss how negative stereotyping of gays and lesbians has an impact on their civil rights:
"Imagine a time when the words "gay" and "lesbian" were taboo in the media -- a time when your newspaper had blatantly homophobic stories on the front page and the entertainment industry didn't give a second thought to negatively portraying lesbians and gays on television or in motion pictures- a time when lesbians and gays were otherwise invisible in the media. This was all occurring less than ten years ago, before the formation of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)" (quote from GLAAD's Web site, http://www.glaad.org)
Now brainstorm to come up with some examples of gay and lesbian representation in the media.
Pass out the discussion topics below, and provide time for students to view GLAAD's
Web site at http://www.glaad.org/.
Involve the class in a group discussion about the Web site.
- What is GLAAD's mission?
- In what ways do you think GLAAD's work benefits gays and lesbians and the movement for civil rights?
- Ask students to give examples of how various groups have been, or still are, portrayed in movies, television, newspapers, songs, and advertisements (e.g., African Americans, Women, Native Americans, Japanese Americans)
- Discuss the impact that these portrayals have on individual views toward the different groups and how the depictions affect/have affected various struggles for civil rights. Why it is important to portray these groups in a more realistic manner?
After completing the discussion, hand out the Media Project Organizer. Small groups of students should choose one of the activities, follow its instructions, and then answer the questions relevant to their particular subject. At the end of the period the groups present what they have learned to the class.
Activity Two: Building a Historical Perspective
(One class period)
Tell students that the gay and lesbian rights movement has made numerous gains since the Stonewall Riots. In this section of the activity, students will look at what has, and what hasn't, changed since 1969. This background information will help them understand the issues that will come up during the talk show activity (activity 3).
Ask students to read the following two articles and respond to the questions in the format of a reflective journal. The first, from a 1969 edition of the New York Times, is about the Stonewall Riots. The second is a present-day article about the picketing of a bar popular with gays.
"Police Again Rout 'Village' Youths". New York Times. June 30, 1969
"Turning Hate Into Help"
- What are the three things that interest you the most in both articles?
- What things have remained unchanged during this time period?
- How have biases toward gays and lesbians changed during this time period?
- How do you think things will be different thirty years from now?
After students respond to the questions, provide time for them to share their answers with the class. (This may be done as a whole class activity or in small groups.) Even though the journals are private, you may ask if any students are willing to share what they've written. This should be optional, as you want students to trust that the journals are their private place to record their thoughts.
Activity Three: Class Talk Show
After students explore media bias and historical background, they will examine different perspectives on the topic. They will do so by creating characters in a talk show consisting of:
- An organizer for a gay/lesbian equal rights march
- An advocate for gays/lesbians in the military
- A person working for the passage of same-sex marriage laws
- A talk show host based on the Dr. Laura television show
- A member of the religious community who opposes homosexuality in their church
- A person who doesn't believe that gays/lesbians should have equal rights
Have student groups select one character from the above list.
Then have the groups research the points of view and develop character
outlines as specified in the
Talk Show Guidelines organizer .
Once research is complete, the group should select one of its members to play the character that the group researched.
Have the host group give their discussion questions to the guest groups so that they can prepare their answers. The host group should use this time to decide how they will set up the classroom for the talk show, as well as how they will organize the show itself.
Once this is complete, stage the talk show. Students who aren't on the panel will be the talk show audience, but all students will write an editorial based on what they learned in the talk show, and in other activities from this lesson - so it is important for them to continue to take notes during this activity.
Teacher Tips for Running Talk Show:
- Allow each member to speak without interruption.
- The moderator should make sure everyone has a chance to articulate his or her position in a timely manner.
- Provide sufficient opportunities for audience participation and questions.
- Allow students to argue their point of view with passion. Dissent is a good way to clarify our understanding of varied perspectives.
As a final assessment, students will express their own perspective about the issue of gay and lesbian rights in an editorial. Before they start writing, examine some basic conventions of editorial writing by looking at sample editorials. Ask students to bring in editorials from home, then select one to share with the class. After students have read the editorial, discuss the following questions:
Break the class into small groups and ask them to repeat this activity with some of the editorials they brought from home.
- What was the purpose of the editorial?
- How did you feel as you were reading the editorial?
- What did the writer do to make you feel this way?
- What did the writer choose to include in the editorial?
- What did the writer choose not to include in the editorial?
- How is the editorial structured?
- What did the author include in the beginning paragraph?
- What did the author include in the ending paragraph?
- How effective was the editorial?
Now have students write their own editorials. Students should review and fill out the
Editorial Organizer. Then they can draft their editorials. Have students peer edit in groups, then share with the class when completed.
- History - Send students to the Columbia University Libraries online exhibition Stonewall and Beyond: Lesbian and Gay Culture. This site contains a wealth of historical information about the history of the lesbian and gay rights movement.
- Reading - The following site is a resource for books containing gay and lesbian characters and themes in children's books
- Math - Create a questionnaire on gay and lesbian rights. Generate a chart/graph that displays the questionnaire results.