Turning many of the most hotly-contested social issues of the presidential campaign into civics lessons for the classroom, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, this week made available to educators at no cost At Issue: The Presidency, Exploring Human and Civil Rights Issues Contested in the 2000 Presidential Elections
. The unique 56-page curricular guide provides lesson plans on issues ranging from hate crimes laws and gays in the military to school voucher proposals and affirmative action.
"Far too often, teachers steer clear of classroom discussions on gay rights and other complicated social issues," stated GLSEN Education Director Scott Hirschfeld. "But it is through discussion and debate--even over complicated issues--that young people form a deeper appreciation for the political process. While they may be too young to vote, they are old enough to debate and form opinions on the burning issues of the day."
GLSEN says engaging young people around political and civil rights issues is important, noting that in the last two decades turnout in presidential elections among people 18-24 has hovered around 20 percentage points below turnout for adults. A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV suggests this trend may continue, finding that fewer than half of the eligible youth voters plan to vote on November 7.
"The most talked about issues on the campaign trail have been social security, Medicare, and prescription drug benefits," continued Hirschfeld. "While these issues are critically important to American voters, civil rights issues are of particular importance to America's youth. This resource helps teachers bring these complicated campaign trail issues to the classroom "
At Issue: The Presidency is the second edition of GLSEN's signature At Issue series, which presents educators with resources and strategies for integrating timely lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and other diversity issues into classroom curricula. Through November 7, the publication may be viewed and downloaded at no cost by visiting www.glsen.org. Additional inclusive curricular resources are available at GLSEN's online Bookstore Catalogue, which may be viewed at www.atlasbooks.com/glsen.