Celebrate Pride Month with Fishtank ELA

May 29, 2024

Pride Month provides an opportunity for students to focus on the voices and experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history during the month of June. While Fishtank ELA highlights these voices across grades and across units year round, we know it can be particularly impactful to dedicate this time to these stories. To help you make the most of this time, we are highlighting two of our favorite units to teach during Pride Month in elementary and middle school ELA—and sharing some exciting news about units we’re working on!


Elementary School Highlight: Movements for Equality 

The 1st Grade Movements for Equality unit introduces students to many of the equal rights movements that have shaped policy and practices in the United States. During Pride Month, teachers can use this unit to help students explore the LGBTQ+ rights movement through two texts that focus on the legacy of the Stonewall Inn and the influence Harvey Milk had on the LGBTQ+ movement.

As they read Stonewall: A Building, an Uprising, a Revolution, students work to answer a variety of Key Questions that build their knowledge of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and the Stonewall Uprising. Additionally, students internalize new vocabulary words relevant to the movement and those involved.

Key Questions

  • How did New York City’s Greenwich Village change? Give multiple examples.
  • How did Greenwich Village continue to change?
  • Who came to the Stonewall Inn? Why?
  • What does it mean that others were not as accepting? What did they believe?
  • What does it mean that people stood defiantly in the street? Why were they standing defiantly?
  • What does it mean that the anger grew into a smoldering resistance? Why did this happen?
  • What happened at the Stonewall Uprising? Why was it important?
  • What happened on June 28, 1970? Why was this important?
  • How are things different at the Stonewall Inn now?

Stonewall: A Building, An Uprising, A Revolution

In Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, students build upon their knowledge of the LGTBQ+ rights movement, learning about Harvey Milk and the impact of the flag he helped create. Students answer Key Questions related to Harvey Milk’s life and legacy, and the importance of the rainbow flag today.

Key Questions

  • What was Harvey’s dream? What did he do to spread his dream?
  • What was Harvey’s idea? Why is his idea important?
  • What symbol did Harvey, Gilbert, and the other activists create? Why?
  • How was the flag used? How did it make people feel?
  • What happened to Harvey? How did people respond?
  • What happened to the flag after Harvey died? What did it symbolize?
  • What do the people demand? How do they use the flag to show their demands?
  • Where has the Rainbow Flag flown? Why is this important?

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

After reading both texts, students spend two days engaged in a Discussion & Writing lesson as they work to address the following prompt: You are on a walk with a friend and you see a LGBTQ+ flag on a neighbor's house. Your friend wonders what the flag means. Explain to your friend what the flag represents and why it is important.

Target Task

The Enhanced Lesson Plan, available to Plus users, offers guidance to support a full class discussion of the goals of the LGTBQ+ rights movement, the importance of LGTBQ+ rights, and the ways in which people fought for justice.


Middle School Highlight: Claiming Our Place: LGBTQ+ Experiences in the United States

In 7th Grade, students explore the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ Americans in the past and present through the unit Claiming Our Place. This unit was added to the Fishtank curriculum in 2021 to help give students as many perspectives as possible through which to consider the yearlong question “What does it mean to be an American?” and repeated opportunities to complicate and deepen their answers.  

The 57 Bus

Since its creation, the unit has been continually updated and improved to ensure students are able to build their knowledge of the LGBQT+ movement and the ways in which it has, and continues to, impact people in the United States.  

The unit centers around the nonfiction text The 57 Bus which explores issues of race, class, gender, sexual identity, and criminal justice. In addition to the core text, students engage with a number of supporting materials including contemporary articles and videos.

Through the text and supporting materials, students work to address the unit’s Essential Questions and build Enduring Understandings.

Essential Questions 

  • What challenges have LGBTQ+ Americans faced in the past, what challenges do they continue to face, and how have they survived and thrived in spite of repression, violence, and discrimination?
  • How does binary thinking shape the way that we understand other people and the world around us?

Enduring Understandings

  • LGBTQ+ have had to fight for social acceptance and equal protection under the law in the face of discrimination, persecution, and violence.
  • Binaries limit our understanding of people and of the world around us; the world is a much more complex and interesting place than binaries allow us to see.

One of the major updates to this unit comes in the form of an expanded writing and presentation project that tasks students with identifying and researching major events in LGBTQ+ history. Students begin by selecting and generating questions about a topic related to LGBTQ+ history in preparation for creating an information poster. 

The details of the presentation assignment and a sample teachers can use to inform and inspire students are included below.

Poster Project


On the Horizon

As we continue to update our curriculum to reflect the most engaging, rigorous, and relevant units possible for students, we are planning a new high school unit centering Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. This core text and the supporting resources will engage students in critical conversations about gender roles, sexual orientation, and the ways in which family relationships can impact individuals. We are excited to have more opportunities for students and teachers to acknowledge Pride Month and learn about both the struggles and successes of members of the LGBTQIA+ community through Fishtank ELA.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic


Stay up to date with timely texts and ideas for engaging students year round on the Fishtank Blog and our social media accounts. We want to know how you’re celebrating LGBTQ+ stories this month! Tell us your favorite texts to teach and activities for Pride Month.

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