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Out of the Past - Resource Guide

Why LGBT History and Out of the Past?

It is crucial for all people to understand the past and possible contributions of all others, including LGBT individuals. By recognizing the accomplishments of LGBT people in our common history, we are also recognizing that LGBT history affects all of us. Traditionally these people, their accomplishments and the important shaping factors in their lives have been left out of history classes. LGBT students are constantly being taught a history that does not reflect the accomplishments of LGBT individuals. A person who does not see themselves in the great achievements of history is taught that society has no place for their efforts.

Currently, there are increased efforts to incorporate LGBT history into lessons. Out of the Past is a great tool to bring past LGBT history into the present. This documentary tells some of the many stories that have been left out of our textbooks, while following the story of a young American who is making history today. Individual portraits from nearly 400 years of American history illustrate the changing place of LGBT people in U.S. society.


Using Out of the Past:

  1. Show Out of the Past at a large assembly. This can be a good option because it can get the school community talking about LGBT history. Talk to a teacher or administrator about showing the film in front of the student body.
  2. Ask your history teacher to use the resource in their classroom. Explain to them that including LGBT figures in their lessons will enhance all students understanding of history.
  3. Show clips in a GSA meeting. Use the time after the clips to talk about why learning about LGBT historical figures is important to you.


General Lessons:

After viewing the film, ask students to list words that people associate with LGBT people. Explain that this is an exercise in understanding social attitudes. Ask them to “brainstorm” these words, but they do not need to believe these words are accurate. Then, use the other side of the board to make a second list. Ask students to identify what qualities made the LGBT leaders in the film able to accomplish great things.

Have a general discussion! Ask students to identify people outside of the school who are LGBT identified. Then ask students how they have positively impacted our country.