Constitutional Democracy Project Receives Library of Congress Grant to Develop LGBTQ+ Equality Movement Teaching Resources

First professional development workshops for teachers will take place in August.

CHICAGO, July 19, 2021—The Constitutional Democracy Project (CDP) has received a $19,000 grant from the Library of Congress to develop teaching resources on the court cases and the political movement that secured civil rights protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

The grant will allow the CDP to research and develop lesson plans highlighting the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community that teachers can easily infuse into an existing history curriculum. The CDP will also host professional development workshops for middle and high school social studies, civics, history, politics, and government teachers. Participants will study court cases, learn about political leaders in the LGBTQ+ community, and explore key moments in the LGBTQ+ political movement.

The teaching resources will cover significant events such as the Stonewall riots and the history of Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood, as well as United States Supreme Court cases involving equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community such as Romer v. EvansObergefell v. Hodges, and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, to name a few.

Dee Runaas, the CDP project director, says these new teaching materials will support Illinois teachers in fulfilling the new state mandate on LGBTQ+ history. In 2019 Illinois amended its school code to include the teaching of “the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State” in public schools beginning in the eighth grade. The amendment took effect on July 1, 2020.

“The fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights protections is still ongoing. We hope that the primary source teaching materials we develop through the Library of Congress’s extensive archives will provide students with a foundational understanding of LGBTQ+ history and encourage them to participate in informed civic dialogue on current events as they unfold,” Runaas says. “The CDP is excited to offer our expertise in civil rights, the political process, and the courts to show students the important role of civic engagement in political and social movements to achieve greater equality.”

The first professional development workshops will take place August 2–3 and August 10 over Zoom. The lesson plans will be available for free to download from the CDP website in late fall.

The CDP offers high-quality, hands-on civics education programs and teaching materials focused on the Constitution, law, and policy for middle school and high school students and their teachers. It is part of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States (ISCOTUS). Chicago-Kent faculty members often volunteer as guest speakers at the CDP’s professional development workshops and youth events.  

The Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) grants support programs that create teaching materials and tools based on the library’s digitized primary sources and other online resources. The teaching materials and professional development programs funded by the grants are targeted at pre- and in-service teachers, librarians, media specialists, and other K-12 educators.

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