Message To Teachers

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The Legacy Project is striving to create an interactive educational experience quite unlike anything else you will encounter in the exploration of LGBTQ History…


It begins with our website – an ongoing research portal where we cull through stories and suggestions to find inspirational Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people who have been obscured by history, redacted from it, or overlooked entirely. We strive for broad representation and take pride in the fact that our nominees come from over 30 countries, represent over 20 fields of interest, and hail from every walk of life and era. And, thanks to nominations made on-line, submitted in writing, and prepared by our researchers, the number of lives we celebrate will continue to grow. The website has an advanced search engine that can be explored alphabetically, demographically, or through a number of drop-down menus.


More than just a website, the Legacy Project was conceived to bring LGBTQ History to life by taking it down off of library shelves (and out of cyberspace) and putting it right on the street with the creation of THE LEGACY WALK. Spanning one-half mile of a major Chicago thoroughfare – North Halsted Street – the Legacy Walk is the world’s only outdoor walking museum dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ contributions to world history and culture. Thanks to the corridor's already significant international tourism appeal, over 1.5 million people visit the Legacy Walk every year – an extraordinary opportunity to educate and enlighten people from all over the world. The Legacy Project regularly conducts guided tours for high school GSA field trips, professional association outings, and the general public. Local colleges and university education departments use the Legacy Walk as a training tool for pre-service teachers who are increasingly coming into contact with both LGBTQ youth, as well as families with same-gender parents. Exploring this unique museum walk has become a popular pass-time for families seeking an interactive way to stimulate dialog and exploration about variant sexuality and gender identity. The Legacy Walk was declared a Historic Landmark in 2019.


The Legacy Wall is a one-of-a-kind, digitally-interactive, traveling exhibit that features "mini-biographies" of LGBTQ people throughout history, from virtually every walk of life, who have contributed in over 20 distinct fields. The content is international and multicultural, and has been substantially vetted and sourced. This wonderfully positive and inspiring exhibit tells the stories behind such figures as Social Justice pioneer Jane Addams; Civil Rights organizer Bayard Rustin; British mathematician Alan Turing; U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan; Astronaut Sally Ride; Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci; Transgender icons Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson; Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo; and Fr. Mychal Judge (the “Saint of 9/11”) – over 125 digitally interactive “mini-biographies” in all. The life-stories behind these heroes are immensely enlightening for all audiences and produce powerful – often cathartic – responses in people. The Legacy Wall has been on a National Tour since January 2017.


Yet even beyond being a website, a museum walk, or a traveling exhibit, the Legacy Project also incorporates teaching tools based on our database of inductees and nominees. The Legacy Project Education Initiative (LPEI) has been  developed by real-world instructors and historians who have been inspired and motivated by both the Project’s mission and its potential to positively effect the lives of LGBTQ youth. Our young people daily deal with cultural marginalization, social isolation, loss of self esteem, and bullying - all because they are forced to endure an education system that is devoid of historically significant LGBTQ role models - people whose life-stories could positively affect the climate in our schools.  LPEI integrates website exploration, multi-media, creative classroom exercises, customized lesson plans, and group discussions with the ability to travel to see the Legacy Walk or the Legacy Wall in person. LPEI lesson plans are based on a fusion of James Banks's multi-level approach to multicultural education and Bloom's Taxonomy, which tailors teaching tools to the maturity level of the student. LPEI teaching tools are available throughout this website and will soon be the foundation of Illinois's new LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum launching in Fall 2020.


If you are a teacher – especially if you are a GSA advisor – we welcome your input and feedback. This unprecedented effort to make LGBTQ contributions to world history and culture interesting, inspiring and, most of all, accessible for your students would benefit from your expertise. As you already know, empirical data and age-appropriate teaching materials for this subject matter are scant. Working with us to shape the classroom experience for your students will give you an opportunity to participate in the first large-sample exploration of LGBTQ individuals' contributions to shared human history in the public schools. Your input, and that of your students, will be crucial to helping us develop future programming with long-term implications for teaching LGBTQ History to youth both in the State of Illinois and beyond. Upload your own lesson plans for any of our nominees or inductees and get credit for building this database. We hope you will join the LPEI Commnity.  Please contact Dr. Gerri Spinella or Dr. Gabriel Gomez who are coordinating the Legacy Project Education Initiative on behalf of our Board of Directors, to learn more.