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Unheard Voices: Stories of LGBT History

Overview

In response to the lack of representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in school curricula and disproportionate incidents of bullying and violence against LGBT youth, ADLGLSEN and StoryCorps collaborated to create Unheard Voices, an oral history and curriculum project that will help educators to integrate LGBT history, people and issues into their instructional programs.

At the core of the program are brief audio interviews with individuals who bore witness to or helped to shape LGBT history in some way. Each interview is accompanied by a backgrounder with discussion questions and activities for educators, and a student reading with biographical information about the interview subject and historical background on the era.

In addition, several lesson plans are included for middle and high school students that explore broad themes—such as silence and invisibility, inclusion and exclusion, and name-calling—as well as specific topics related to the interviews, such as marriage equality and gender identity. One or more oral histories are integrated into each lesson plan.

 

 

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

Lesson 1: Grades 8 & Up

The Invisibility of LGBT People in History: “Peculiar Disposition of the Eyes”

This lesson explores the ways in which LGBT people, events and issues have been made invisible in mainstream accounts of history. In the first half of the lesson, students reflect on excerpts from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man to explore the impact of invisibility on people and as a jumping off point for researching how different groups have been historically marginalized in society. In the second part of the lesson, students participate in a history matching game and listen to LGBT oral histories that increase their awareness of significant LGBT people and events, and the ways in which these topics have been erased from the historical record.

Learning Standards

Reading

  • 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.
  • R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • R.6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
  • R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Writing

  • W.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • W.8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • W.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Speaking and Listening

  • SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ 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.

Language

  • L.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • L.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • L.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

 

 

Lesson 2: Grades 6 & Up

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,” “faggot” and “dyke” 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.”

Learning Standards

Reading

  • 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.
  • R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Speaking and Listening

  • SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ 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.

Language

  • L.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

 

 

Lesson 3: Grades 8 & Up

The Exclusion of LGBT People from Societal Institutions: In-Group, Out-Group

In this lesson, students explore the concept of exclusion on personal and societal levels. After participating in an exercise in which they experience the effects of inclusion/exclusion in a social situation, students do reflective writing in response to historical photographs depicting the exclusion of various groups in society. In the final part of the lesson, students identify ways in which LGBT people are currently excluded from societal institutions, listen to interviews of LGBT people describing their experiences with discrimination and create portraits of the interview subjects that reflect what they have learned.

Learning Standards

Reading

  • 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.
  • R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Writing

  • W.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Speaking and Listening

  • SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ 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.
  • SL.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

Language

  • L.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • L.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • L.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

 

 

Lesson 4: Grades 8 & Up

Winning the Right to Marry: Historic Parallels

In this lesson, students explore marriage bans for same-sex couples within the context of earlier prohibitions, and use these historical parallels to determine the fairness of current restrictions. Students listen to the story of an individual who was personally affected by marriage restrictions and fought to change the law in his state. They then analyze existing state and federal laws concerning same-sex marriage, and consider whether or not these laws are in need of change.

Learning Standards

Reading

  • 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.
  • R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Writing

  • W.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • W.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

 

Speaking and Listening

  • SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Language

  • L.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • L.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • L.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

 

 

Lesson 5: Grades 10 & Up

Understanding Gender Identity

In this lesson students learn about gender identity and explore the impact of rigid gender role expectations and stereotypes. Using various media—an audio interview and a video of a spoken word performance—transgender people and issues are personalized and clarified for students. Students then discuss real-life scenarios depicting conflicts around gender expression in school settings, and brainstorm ways to be an ally to transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Learning Standards

Reading

  • 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.
  • R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Speaking and Listening

  • SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ 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.

Language

  • L.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

 

 

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.