A Diversity Curriculum for Gay and Lesbian Teens in Middle School

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo


Homosexuality is currently becoming a political issue in education. A central question is whether or not we as educators should provide information regarding sexual orientation in a classroom setting. If a school system decides to provide such information, at what grade level is it deemed appropriate? This thesis focuses on the need for, and development of a diversity curriculum for middle school students which includes information on sexual orientation. It begins with an examination of the lack of safety and justice for homosexual students in school, and anti-gay violence as it relates to adolescents. The issue of the rights of gay and lesbian youth will be addressed from both the moral and legal perspectives. The moral perspective will present the work of moral educator Nel Noddings and her contribution of the ethic of care This ethic of care supports the legal perspective offered. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has set forth a series of recommendations, as well as a law, to protect gay and lesbian students in a public school setting. To achieve the recommended changes, individuals need significant creative and critical thinking skills and dispositions. Through the works of author Gary Davis, psychologists C.R. Rogers, Abraham Maslow, and Teresa Amabile, and educator Delores Gallo, a conception of creative thinking is explored. Creative development leads to the enhancement of open-mindedness, tolerance for ambiguity, and flexibility, which foster empathy. The critical thinking perspective examines the works of educator Barry Byer, and philosophers Robert Ennis and Richard Paul. Special attention is given to the importance of dialogue in the education of all children. Finally, this thesis provides eight lessons to incorporate into a middle school curriculum. These lessons address the issues of identity formation, perception and stereotyping, ethical decision making, and the cultural contributions of marginalized groups in our society, with a focus on homosexuals. The purpose of the lessons is to reduce prejudice, increase tolerance and informed judgments, thereby addressing the needs of gay and lesbian teens in our society, by providing positive role models and fostering constructive dialogue.


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