Understanding and Teaching U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History

2nd Edition Now Available – From the Intro to the Second Edition:

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 2.07.35 PM“Launching a new edition just three years after the first signals that a good deal has changed in a short period. Legal developments and heightened trans visibility, in particular demand deeper consideration. It was the need to update the essays on the Supreme Court, same-sex marriage, the Right and trans history that sparked this edition.”

“Leila J. Rupp and Susan K. Freeman have assembled a terrific book for anyone teaching U.S. history to high school or college students. . . . If the task of teaching LGBT history in the classroom seems daunting, the first section of the book presents first-hand accounts of high school and college teachers who have taken the plunge. They represent a broad range of teaching experiences: public and private schools, affluent and impoverished student bodies, hostile and sympathetic parents and administrators, survey and elective courses, tight and flexible time constraints. Each teacher attests to the importance this history had for their students. . . . Especially helpful are wonderful examples of strategies to achieve specific goals.” Claire Lyons, Univ. of Maryland.

Full Review: The American Historian, Feb 2015

A book on the history of same-sex sexuality fits well with the Goldberg Series, which seeks to explore a “usable past.” Such a text is particularly needed given the absence or superficiality of information available in schools, as the same time that news media and popular culture have dedicated exponentially more attention to the lives and struggles of queer people. In this context, students enter high schools and colleges with a sense of the current status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, or at least some familiarity with the hot-button issues and stereotypical portrayals. Yet most have little grasp of the historical precedents to today’s coming out and gay pride spectacles, and few are critical of the narratives that locate queer liberation in the present-day United States. Although October is sometimes recognized as LGBT History Month, activities tend to center on National Coming Out Day, a date that tends to celebrate the present, not the past.

Finalist for a 2015 Lambda Award

Winner, Anthology, 2015 Lambda Award

Queer history’s incorporation into the central narratives of U.S. history is slowly emerging in scholarship, yet not much is available to aid teachers seeking guidance about their classes. History textbooks offer some encouragement to instructors who want to incorporate queer content into their classes, and the inclusion of same-sex sexuality in college textbooks has expanded in keeping with the growing body of historical scholarship. The breadth and depth of information is necessarily limited in the textbooks, with the greatest attention to the gay movement and AIDS, and infrequent references to the pre–World War II era.

In a similar way to racial/ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups, queer lives first appear as “sidebar” stories, which are important to introducing, say, prominent individuals or significant acts of protest. But this is just a beginning. Our book will help illuminate important figures and events, with essays by experts who possess substantial teaching experience. In addition, the book will be a one-of-a-kind guide for teachers, helping them to understand how the central narratives of U.S. history speak to queer lives and, just as importantly, vice versa.

The Editors 

Leila J. Rupp is Professor of Feminist Studies and Associate Dean of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she holds affiliated appointments in history and sociology. A historian by training, she has published widely on sexuality and women’s movements. Her books on sexuality include Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women (2009); Drag Queens at the 801 Cabaret (2003), coauthored with Verta Taylor; and A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Sexuality in America (1999). She is a coeditor, with Verta Taylor and Nancy Whittier, of the seventh, eighth, and ninth editions of Feminist Frontiers and has contributed modules to Retrieving the American Past and Exploring the European Past. She won the top teaching awards at Ohio State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as the Ohio Academy of History Outstanding Teaching Award. She was recently invited to sit on the board of a new foundation dedicated to developing curriculum in response to the California FAIR Education Act, and she is coeditor, with Don Romesburg and David Donohue, of a report to the California Department of Education on the incorporation of queer history in the K-12 curriculum.

Susan K. Freeman is Associate Professor and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at Western Michigan University. She is the author of Sex Goes to School: Girls and Sex Education before the 1960s (2008). Her current research examines the development of gay and lesbian studies classes beginning in 1969, and she regularly teaches LGBT Studies and other courses addressing the politics and history of sexuality.