Students explore the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ Americans in the past and present.
In this unit, students will read The 57 Bus, a nonfiction text about a momentary encounter between two teenage strangers on a bus in Oakland, California. One late afternoon in November of 2013, Richard—sixteen, African-American, male, from an economically depressed section of the city—took a lighter and lit the skirt of a sleeping teenager on fire. That teenager, Sasha—eighteen, white, agender, from a middle class area of the city—was rushed to the hospital with severe burns. Richard was arrested and charged with a felony hate crime. This text is an exploration of race, class, gender, sexual identity, criminal justice, and the gray areas that exist in the world and within us all. The supplemental texts that students will read alongside The 57 Bus are intended to support their understanding of the history, struggle, and successes of LGBTQ+ Americans as students continue their year-long study of what it means to be American.
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Book: The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2017) — 930L
Article: “Milestones in the American Gay Rights Movement” by PBS.org (WGBH Educational Foundation)
Article: “LGBTQ Rights Milestones Fast Facts” by CNN (Cable News Network)
Article: “Victory! Federal Court Rules Trans Students Must Have Access to Bathrooms That Match Their Gender” by Lambda Legal (Lambda Legal)
Article: “We Need Gender Neutral Bathrooms Everywhere” by Adryan Corcione (Teen Vogue)
Video: “Trans People Nail The Absurdity Of The Bathroom Debate | Trans 102 | Refinery29” by Refinery29 (YouTube)
Video: “Oakland Police Seek Witnesses, Good Samaritans Aboard AC Transit Bus” by KRON 4 (YouTube)
Video: “Oakland California Victim in Bus Burning Fire” (YouTube)
Article: “Hate Crimes, Explained” by Swathi Shanmugasundaram (The Southern Poverty Law Center)
Website: Hate Crimes by FBI.gov
This assessment accompanies Unit 6 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
affirm binary callous consensual conscientious divert eccentric lenient malleable nonconforming
bi- hetero- homo-
central idea relevant structure sufficient
To see all the vocabulary for this course, view our 7th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
We are very mindful of the fact that this unit only provides students with the most rudimentary introduction to the history and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in this country. Our core text provides students with a window into the life of one agender person (and their friends, who have diverse gender, romantic, and sexual identities). For their final project, students will have the opportunity to spend time studying an LGBTQ+ American more closely. But one of the strengths of this community is its diversity; students must leave this unit understanding that while LGBTQ+ Americans may share some common history and experiences, the community is anything but monolithic.
As always, it is essential that teachers ensure that their classroom is a safe space for all students, with a particular focus on supporting students who may experience this unit as more of a “mirror” than “window.” You may have students who are out as LGBTQ+ in your classroom, but it is equally important to teach this unit with the knowledge that you very likely have LGBTQ+ students in your classroom who are not out. There are many fantastic resources available for supporting LGBTQ students and building awareness of queer issues and history in your classrooms. Here are just a few:
We recommend letting parents know that you will be teaching this book and discussing sexuality and gender identity in the classroom. It is also important to let school support staff know so that they are aware of what will be addressed.
This text raises a number of very important issues about race and class in the United States. While students will regularly engage with these topics within lessons, our overarching focus in this unit is on gender and sexual identity. If you have the time and flexibility within your schedule, we encourage you to supplement this unit with texts that dive more deeply into the American criminal justice system, and the way it intersects with race.
A note on terminology: We have made the choice to use the acronym LGBTQ+ in this unit. There is no perfect acronym or word to use that encapsulates the entirety of this community, but we have chosen this acronym because of its inclusion of the “Q” (for queer, an umbrella term that a growing number of people prefer) and the “+,” which is an (admittedly imperfect) acknowledgement of the diversity of people included in the community.
“LGBTQ Rights Milestones Fast Facts”
Identify significant events in the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights and draw conclusions about what these milestones reveal about the political and social reality for LGBTQ+ Americans.
Create a poster that educates classmates about a significant event or aspect of LGBTQ+ American history.
The 57 Bus pp. 1 – 27
Describe how a text is organized, how specific chapters fit into the overall structure of the text, and how the author makes structural choices to develop the reader’s understanding of characters, setting, and plot.
The 57 Bus pp. 28 – 56
Describe how Sasha’s community responded to their gender identity, and how specific chapters in the text contribute to the reader’s understanding of characters, ideas, and events.
“Trans People Nail The Absurdity...”
Identify a writer or speaker’s argument and assess whether the evidence they provide is relevant to claims.
The 57 Bus pp. 59 – 102
Explain specific chapters fit into the overall structure of the text and how the author makes structural choices to develop the reader’s understanding of characters, setting, and plot.
The 57 Bus pp. 105 – 133
“Okland California Victim...”
“Oakland Police Seek Witnesses...”
Analyze the way that Slater develops the reader’s understanding of the fire on the bus and compare news reports about the incident with facts and details Slater includes in The 57 Bus.
The 57 Bus pp. 134 – 160
“Hate Crimes, Explained” — End after section “What Motivates Hate Offenders”
Make connections between larger legal concepts and events in The 57 Bus, drawing evidence from both texts to support ideas.
The 57 Bus
Analyze the effect of the author’s use of second person point of view.
The 57 Bus pp. 161 – 190
Identify an author or speaker’s argument and assess whether the evidence they provide is relevant and sufficient.
The 57 Bus pp. 191 – 222
Explain the way that events affect individuals’ emotions, beliefs, and behavior in The 57 Bus.
The 57 Bus pp. 223 – 254
Explain how specific chapters in The 57 Bus fit into the overall structure of the text, and develop the reader’s understanding of characters and ideas.
The 57 Bus pp. 255 – 295
Describe how The 57 Bus is organized and how Slater's structural choices develop the reader’s understanding of characters and ideas.
The 57 Bus
Identify central ideas in The 57 Bus and explain how Slater develops ideas over the course of the text.
The 57 Bus
Engage in a Socratic Seminar with peers, responding directly to others by rephrasing and delineating arguments, determining the strength of evidence, and posing clarifying questions.
Translate the expectations of the writing task and gather evidence from research.
Incorporate simple, compound, and complex sentences into their own writing.
Elaborate arguments into an introduction and conclusion and revise for clarity, mechanics, and organization.