Understanding Homophobia/Heterosexism and How to Be an Ally


Middle and high school students, especially those who identify or are perceived as LGBQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer or questioning), often face ongoing acts of homophobia. As LGBQ students go about their everyday lives in school, they can feel unsafe, miss school, be harassed and bullied, hear anti-gay slurs and other biased remarks and experience discriminatory policies and procedures. Despite the great strides our country has made in public opinion and positive legislation for LGBT individuals—especially around marriage equality—there is still work to be done in both words and deeds.

The goal of this lesson is to contribute to making classrooms and schools more safe and welcoming for all students—including LGBQ students and increase students’ understanding of and empathy for how homophobia manifests itself in schools and society. Middle and high school students will have the opportunity to learn more about what homophobia and heterosexism are and how they manifest themselves, read an essay about being an ally and discuss ways they can be an ally, including actions they can take on behalf of their school or community.


This lesson plan has been put together by the Anti-Defamation League, and a pdf version is available here.


Learning Standards


  • R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.


Speaking and Listening

  • SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners building on other’s ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively and orally.



Link to the original page is available here.


The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

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