WHAT MUST BE DONE TO ACHIEVE EQUALITY?
Evaluating different approaches
By evaluating various statements about what must be done to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, students consider the responsibility they have to end discrimination. Students also explore the relative importance of changing legislation, changing attitudes, and taking action in order to achieve equality.
To analyze responsibility for ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons
To compare the relative importance of different tactics for achieving equality
Age Level: High school to adult
Time: About 60 minutes
Subject Areas: Social studies, health education
Explain to students that in this activity they will evaluate different ways to work for the
human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.
Divide students into small groups. For each group prepare an envelope containing one complete set of statements from Handout 1: Changing Legislation to Achieve Equality, Handout 2: Changing Attitudes to Achieve Equality, and Handout 3: Taking Action to Achieve Equality. The statements should be cut into strips and mixed together before being put in the envelope. If students ask why the statements are printed on different colored paper, let them know you will tell them why at the end of the activity.
Each group should also have one sheet of butcher paper. The paper should be held lengthwise and divided into three columns. The columns should be headed: Essential, Useful, and Irrelevant.
As the group members read each statement, they should try to place it in what they agree is the appropriate column. In essence, group members are answering the question: In order to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, which actions are essential, which are useful, and which are irrelevant?
When the group cannot agree, they should save that statement until they have placed the ones about which they can agree. They should then discuss the remaining statements and try to place them under the Essential, Useful, and Irrelevant columns.
Each group should try to reach a consensus. Members may alter the wording of a statement if it helps them to reach consensus. Blank slips of paper can be used to create additional statements if needed. When all the statements have been placed on the newsprint, they can be taped in place.
Groups should be allowed time to look at each other's finished sheets and to identify differences in priorities.
Groups should then return to their own sheet and note whether there is any pattern to how they have placed the different colored statements. At this time, the teacher should draw attention to the significance of the different colors on which the statements are printed.
Point out to the students that statements printed on white paper are about changing laws to bring about equality. Statements printed on blue paper are about changing people's attitudes to achieve equality, while the statements printed on yellow paper are about persons taking direct action towards equality.
Ask students to look at their chart again and discuss the following questions to debrief the activity:
In general, what ideas or concerns guided you as you placed the statements under the three columns?
Point out to students that their answers to this question reveal their theories about how to bring about change for equal human rights.
Was there a pattern for or against changing legislation, changing attitudes, or taking direct action?
Why do you have preferences for working towards change in certain ways?
Make clear to students that there is no single, right way to work towards change. The goal of the exercise is not to determine which method of working for change is best. In fact, students may themselves point out the symbiotic connection, for example, between changing legislation to change attitudes and the need to change attitudes to change legislation. If anything, the activity should help students appreciate that all three strategies are important and that the goal is not to choose one but to balance all three.