This 27-page academic inquiry unit “Sylvia Rivera – Stonewall Street Fighter and Activist” gives Sylvia Rivera’s activism context within a historical narrative and an individual story. Students will construct a deeper understanding of the forces that impel activism and agency. Knowledge of the LGBTQ Civil Rights movement will inform this understanding and contextualization. Within the inquiry process students are asked to consider the marginalization of transgender people, and how this marginalization impacted Sylvia Rivera’s (and others) activist role. The discussion questions, lenses of understanding and activity guide provide a framework for this student centered, teacher facilitated construction of knowledge. Because Stonewall has been mythologized by some as the beginning of the LGBTQ rights movement, the lesson includes game cards that give students the opportunity to explore how past events become distorted within the historical narrative. In addition, this inquiry unit expects students to connect the past to current issues.
This unit is an exploration of Sylvia Rivera’s life in her own words, recorded by Eric Marcus in the late 1980s. The complete podcast can be found at MakingGayHistory.com.
*Language has changed and evolved rapidly. When talking about issues of gender, ethnicity, race and culture, starting with a discussion of language is encouraged.