This June, like every June, Newsela is celebrating Pride! If students see themselves in the books they read and the history they learn, we know they’re more engaged and have better outcomes. For LGBTQIA+ students, having an inclusive curriculum even contributes to making them feel safer in schools. We hope our Celebrating Pride Month Text Sets will bring joy to learning about LGBTQIA+ history, the heroes who fought for rights, and the challenges faced today. We know teachers come to Newsela for vetted and trustworthy content, so here are a few resources to use in your classroom to celebrate Pride.
Why it’s important: Gloria Anzaldua was one of a kind. She was a poet, activist, theorist, teacher, and leader in the Chicano and Chicana movement. Her writing style - mixing poetry with prose, Spanish and English - “mirrors the way feminists must struggle to have their ideas heard in a patriarchal society.” She was a devoted and celebrated writer, whose books depicted everything from the cultures along the Mexico and Texas border to “how lesbians find a sense of belonging in a straight world.”
How to use it in the classroom: Anzaldua was dismayed by the lack of stories written by or about women of color while a member of the Feminist Writers Guild and after moving to California in 1977. Have students read the article and answer the Write Prompt or, you can edit the write prompt to create your own. As students explore Anzaldua’s work, have them discuss which stories they feel haven’t been told from their own cultures and experiences, and why that might be?
Article: Artists: Painter Beauford Delaney
Why it’s important: Beauford Delaney may be a name students haven’t heard often, but his paintings helped define the Harlem Renaissance and inspired writers like James Baldwin. Delaney was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. After studying in Boston he moved to New York, where he was a member of the gay and Black communities in Greenwich Village and Harlem. His works developed in Paris, where he took his “love of color and light to a new extreme, creating far more abstract works.” He struggled with his homosexuality and mental health for most of his life, spending his last days in St. Anne's Hospital for the Insane in Paris. Today, he’s celebrated as one of the influential painters in the gay, African-American community of his time.
How to use it in the classroom: When talking about influential artists in history, a great way to engage students is to incorporate art into the lesson. Using our Celebrating Pride Month Lessons: LGBTQIA+ Arts and Sciences, before reading the article, have students examine some of Delaney’s art and answer questions like, “what shapes/colors/figures do you see?” or “how does this piece of art make you feel?” Then, have students read the article independently or as a group and discuss the piece. Finally, have students create a visual one-pager on the artist and his work, as well as the artist’s relationship to LGBTQIA+ history and community.
Why it’s important: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were friends, they were trans women, and drag queens, and they were at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. “Pay it no mind” – that’s what the P. in Marsha P. Johnson’s name stood for – a motto that defined her attitude toward people questioning her gender. It became a mantra for LGBTQIA+ people for decades to come in times of celebration and in times of hardship. Sylvia and Marsha fought for an inclusive gay liberation movement and, later, Pride celebrations that honored trans people, women, and people of color. In 2019, as New York City was preparing for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the city honored Johnson and Rivera with statues.
How to use it in the classroom: This article is part of our LGBTQIA+ Trailblazers and Activists Text Set. Within the text set you will find lessons and activities. Have students read the article and discuss how Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera could be considered trailblazers, then have students create biographical representations of one of the individuals they read about (or the many other trailblazers they have to pick from in the Text Set). Their biographies can be PowerPoints, a poster, comics, or another creative expression that students choose.
Why it’s important: In 2017, Danica Roem was the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature in the United States. As a former reporter she used her skills gained from journalism to "listen to different perspectives and digest complicated policy.” Roem’s campaign focused on jobs, schools, and northern Virginia’s traffic congestion, and she credited her grassroots supporters for contributing to her victory. "No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you're qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table," she said.
How to use it in the classroom: Using the Celebrating Pride Month Lessons - LGBTQIA+ Victories in the Last 10 Years PDF, have students reflect on the question, “Why does representation matter in positions of political leadership or government.” Use this article, along with others in the Text Set to help students gather evidence to answer the question, then discuss in groups or with the whole class. Finally, have students choose a LGBTQIA+ political leader to write a letter to. In their letter, students can explain why they chose to learn about their career, what they’ve found meaningful about their work, and ask them questions.
We hope this Pride brings celebration, joy, and understanding to classrooms everywhere. See all our Pride resources in our Celebrating Pride Text Sets.