The picture is the cover of the book, which includes pictures of Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk, and more.
The cover of Gay & Lesbian History For Kids

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-long Struggle for LGBT Rights by Jerome Pohlen
Grades 4-6

According to Leslea Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies, “This is a valuable book that puts the present-day gains of the LGBT movement into perspective for today’s youth.” 

Gay & Lesbian History For Kids is a well designed presentation of the lives and contributions of historically and culturally influential people. The book includes photographs, pertinent quotes, and interesting stories set in turbulent times. 

What makes this book so valuable for the classroom is the inclusion of 31 creative activities suitable for a wide range of ages. Several activities highlighting key concepts are included in each chapter.  

Immediately after the table of contents is a time line, beginning with Greek poet Sappho’s death in 570 BCE and continuing to the 2015 Supreme Court decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) legalizing same sex marriage nationwide. 

The Introduction, “Two Moms” stirs the readers emotions when learning of the confrontation between hospital workers upholding state laws and mothers prevented from being in the Intensive Care Unit with their dying son. The author waits to finish this harrowing story until the afterword stating, “But before you learn what they did, it’s important to understand how they, and all of us, got to this point.” This is a most effective way to draw the reader into the book by learning of the struggles and hardships of the LGBT community through time. And it continues.  

Suggestions for in-class activities:
Reading aloud the chapters and doing the activities is the most effective way to reach the most students with this important historical information. Having this book, and others mentioned in the extensive notes and resource sections, readily available for access by individual students during independent reading time is also beneficial. In addition there are suggested  movies and places to visit that are added to the resource section at the end of the book. Websites of these places will show students what to expect if they eventually travel to Chicago or New York City.

After reading chapter 6, “Aids and a Conservative Backlash,” use Google to access the Aids Memorial Quilt where further information is available as well as several You Tube videos of this incredible effort commemorating thousands who died of HIV and AIDS.

By educating students about LGBT people and their historical efforts to achieve equality, positive social change to further access equal rights will be better understood and supported. More importantly, straight students may gain even more respect for their gay and lesbian classmates. 

Find more information about the book from the publisher here.
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