What Must be Done to Achieve Equality?

A Group Discussion Activity

(from "Breaking the Classroom Silence," the curriculum which, along with an extensive bibliography,
serves as the Gay and Lesbian Rights Resource Notebook)


By placing statements about what must be done to achieve equality for gays and lesbians, students consider the responsibility people have for themselves and others in efforts to end discrimination. Students also explore the relative importance of changing legislation, changing attitudes, and taking action in order to achieve equality.


  • AGE LEVEL: High school to adult
  • TIME: About 60 minutes
  • MATERIALS: Handouts 1-3
  • SUBJECT AREAS: Social studies, Health education

    Divide students into groups of 4-6.

    For each group prepare an envelope containing one complete set of statements from Handouts 1-3. The statements should be cut into strips.

    Each group should also have one sheet of newsprint paper. The paper should be held lengthwise and divided into three columns. The columns should be headed: Essential, Useful, and Irrelevant.

    As the group reads 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 lesbians and gays, 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 agree. They should then discuss the remaining statements and try to place them under the Essential, Useful, or Irrelevant column.

    Each group should try to reach a consensus. Members may alter the wording of a statement if it helps the 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 in where they have placed the different colored statements. At this time, the teacher should draw attention to the significance of the colors of the statements:

    red = legislative change
    green = attitude change
    yellow = action for change

    Questions to debrief the activity:

  • In general, what principles guided you as you placed the statements under the three columns?
  • Was there a pattern of bias for or against legislative change, attitude change, or action?
  • Why do you have such a bias?

    Handout 1

    To be copied on red paper

    The age of consent should be the same for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    Discrimination in employment against lesbians and gays should be illegal.

    The state should recognize lesbian and gay marriages.

    Laws against lesbian and gay relationships should be repealed.

    Lesbian and gay relationships should be recognized for immigration purposes.

    Lesbians and gays should be allowed to serve as members of the armed forces.

    Lesbians and gays should be allowed to adopt children and become foster parents.

    Same-sex affection in public places should be accepted.

    General laws on assault, asylum, and so on should be applied to lesbians and gays.

    Special provisions should be made to guarantee the safety of lesbians and gays.

    Lesbian and gay organizations should be officially recognized by the government.

    The government should give financial support to lesbian and gay organizations.

    The government should recognize registered partnerships between lesbians and gays.

    Lesbians and gays should be allowed to marry.

    Handout 2

    To be copied on green paper

    In sex education, homosexuality and heterosexuality should be presented as equal.

    Everyone who works with young people should undergo anti-heterosexist training, along with other diversity training.

    Books should be available to children showling children in lesbian and gay households

    Stereotypes of lesbians and gay men should be challenged.

    The idea that AIDS is a gay disease should be challenged.

    The idea that homosexuality is unnatural should be challenged.

    Lesbians, gay men, and their accomplishments should be included in curriculum.

    The idea that the nuclear family is the best place to bring up children should be challenged.

    Gays and lesbians should learn about the experiences of other people who experience discrimination.

    Handout 3

    To be copied on yellow paper

    Lesbians and gays who act against the interests of other lesbians and gays should be "outed."

    Lesbians and gays should reduce their "invisibility" by engaging in high profile media events including demonstrations.

    Those who support lesbian and gay rights should lobby the government, as well as religious and other institutions.

    Lesbians and gays must work within mainstream institutions and organizations to achieve equality.

    Lesbians and gays should build coalitions with other oppressed groups.

    Lesbians and gays should take action in solidarity with other oppressed groups.

    People who support lesbian and gay rights have a responsibility to challenge homophobia whenever possible.

    Supporters of lesbian and gay rights should register a complaint whenever there is anti-gay reporting in the media.

    Supporters of lesbian and gay rights should boycott those products and services from companies which are anti-lesbian/gay.

    Lesbians and gays have a responsibility to set up or join organizations which campaign for their rights.

    Campaigns which have been successful in challenging lesbian and gay oppression should be publicized and celebrated.

    Lesbians and gays should be open about their sexual orientation.