Legalized Discrimination

How many states have LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections in K-12 schools?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What word came to your mind when you first read and understood this map?

  3. What story does this map tell?

  4. What patterns do you see in this map?

  5. Why do you think that pattern exists?

  6. If you overlaid the map above with a map showing the political party affiliation by state how would Democratic majority states compare to the states with nondiscrimination policy?

  7. Does your state protect LGBTQ students from discrimination?

  8. What is the most persuasive argument you have heard for why children should be protected from discrimination?

  9. What is the most persuasive argument you have heard for why children should NOT be protected from discrimination?

  10. In 1964 the U.S. Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and, notably, sex. Why didn’t Congress outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1964?

  11. Why doesn’t the federal legislature outlaw LGBTQ discrimination today?

  12. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, has said the 1964 Civil Rights Act does guarantee protections against sexual orientation discrimination. Do federal agencies have discretion to make decisions about how to enforce laws?

  13. The Trump administration has taken the opposite position from the EEOC, saying that the landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and, notably, sex, cannot fairly be read to apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status. What power does the Trump administration have over the EEOC and what can they do if they don’t like the EEOC’s enforcement decisions?

  14. The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees protections from workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people, agreeing to hear a case from New York, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623, along with one from Georgia that came to the opposite conclusion, Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618.. Based on what you know about the Supreme Court, why has the court taken on this issue?

  15. How do you think the Supreme Court will rule?

  16. Did you know that the New York case, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had voiced concerns about being tightly strapped to Mr. Zarda during a tandem dive. Mr. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was “100 percent gay.” He was fired. Mr. Zarda sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and lost the initial rounds. He died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case which they won in a recent appeals court ruling.

  17. If you were on the Court (you aren’t) explain how you would rule on this issue?

  18. Explain whether you would make a distinction in your ruling between protection for LGB people and Trans people.

  19. Do you think that the Court’s ruling on these cases will be landmark cases that will be studied by AP U.S. Government students in the future?

  20. What are some groups that might file Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Briefs in this case?

  21. Why do groups file Amicus Curiae briefs in cases, anyway?

  22. How would a judicial conservative and a judicial activist differ in their approach to this case?

  23. How does this issue illustrate checks and balances?

  24. How does this issue illustrate federalism?

  25. Would you like to live in a world without hypotheticals?

  26. The map below* illustrates laws limiting workplace discrimination by state. How different is this map from the map above?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read the Vox article, The Supreme Court just took up a set of very big cases on LGBTQ rights, about LGBTQ discrimination in America/

Action Extension

Contact a member of your state legislature and ask them to explain their position on protections for LGBTQ students.

Our World in Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothing Extension


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Ranking our Rights

AP US Government and Politics

Of the following rights, which do Americans think is the least important: freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to privacy, freedom of religion, the right to own guns?

AP US Government and Politics

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this data tell?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What most surprised you about this information?

  5. What is one consequence of Americans' enduring love of freedom of speech?

  6. The right to own guns is relatively unessential Americans' sense of freedom. How do you think that impacts the recent national debate about gun reform?

  7. According to this poll, which Constitutional Amendments are deemed as essential?

  8. WHat other Amendments (not listed above) would you personally describe as indispensable to your sense of freedom?

  9. How would you personally rank these five freedoms on a scale of most to least essential to your freedom?

  10. Explain how differently you think the average American Republican and Democrat would rank these five freedoms:

  11. If you were an autocratic government, determined to take away citizens' rights (think Putin) explain which of those five rights would you first take away.* This is hypothetical - don't actually do this!!!!!

  12. What's wrong with Americans that we no longer consider our Third Amendment Freedom from having to quarter soldiers as essential to our freedom????

  13. That Third Amendment right, which seemed essential in 1787 is more or less obsolete today. The Framers also were concerned about an overreaching national government and thus protected the right of states to form militias (2nd Amendment). Do you think that this idea is equally obsolete?

  14. Imagine Americans wanted to abolish the 2nd and 3rd Amendment (we've abolished amendments before) What steps could Americans take to do this?

Learning Extension

Read the Pew research Report on The Five Freedoms.

Action Extension

Share the following ranking with any ten people. Share the results in class or online.

Create your own user feedback survey

AP Pugament and Pugatics

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Drag Extension


States of Execution

AP US GOVernment and Politics

What state has had the most executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976?*

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe one geographical pattern you see in this map?

  3. What do you think explains that pattern?

  4. What portion of Americans favor the death penalty?

  5. Why do you think that is the case?

  6. How do you think public opinion on the death penalty varies by political party? (see below)

  7. How do you think public opinion on the death penalty varies by Age, race, and gender? (see below)

  8. Do you personally favor the death penalty ?

  9. What trend do you see in the number of executions in the US?

  10. What is one explanation for that trend?

  11. Based on public opinion and the trend in the total number of executions, would you say that the number of executions is based on public opinion on this issue?

  12. Was the death penalty a big issue in the 2016 presidential election?

  13. In Furman v. Georgia in 1972 the supreme court ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional. Upon what portion of the U.S. Constitution did they base their ruling?

  14. In 1976, in Gregg V. Georgia the Supreme court overturned the precedent set in Furman v. Georgia and ruled the death penalty constitutional, in certain cases. Is the Supreme Court allowed to overturn their own precedent?

  15. If you were opposed to the Gregg V. Georgia decision and wanted to outlaw the death penalty, what legal and constitutional steps could you take to make this happen?

  16. Based on all the data from the chart above, do you imagine the death penalty will be legal in 2020?

  17. How does the use of capital punishment in the U.S. Compare to other countries? (see Below)

  18. What is most surprising about any of this information?

* In Furman v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court rules by a vote of 5-4 that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.

In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.”

Learning extension

Read this article in The Economist about the death penalty in the US.

Action Extension

Poll 10 people about whether they favor or oppose the death penalty. Compare your data with general US data from the chart below and explain your opinion of these results in class or online.

Bonus Visuals*

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals In Clothes Extension

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today we have a special class starter to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  1. What is the main point Dr. King is making in this quote?

  2. Do you agree with Dr. King?

  3. What is an example of injustice in your world today?

  4. How does that injustice affect you?

  5. Do you agree that we are all tied together and interconnected?

  6. Describe any example you can think of where we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality:

  7. Do you know why Dr. King was in the Birmingham Jail on April 16, 1963?

  8. Do you think you would go to jail to fight a modern injustice?

  9. What would Dr. King think about our world today?

  10. What do you think Dr. King's greatest legacy is?

  11. How are you celebrating today's King Holiday?

Learning Extension

One of the most important and moving letters in American history is Dr. King's brilliant and inspiring Letter from a Birmingham Jail. You can read it in a twenty minute sitting. We also have a great lesson on Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

Action Extension

On social media or in person, share Dr. King’s quote and explain what it means to you.


How different are incarceration rates for Blacks and Whites in the US?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How accurate do you think the average American would be?

  3. How surprising is this information?

  4. What is the take-home point of this chart?

  5. List two consequences of this huge disparity in incarceration rates for different races:

  6. What questions do you have about this?

  7. Why do you think there is such a huge disparity in incarceration rate for different races?

  8. Explain why these racial disparities in incarceration are not a bigger issue in the 2016 election or in American society, in general?

  9. Explain whether you think this chart is good or bad news:

  10. If you were to rename this chart, what would a good title be? Write the new title in the comments section below:

  11. What steps could the US government take to change these numbers?

  12. Prediction: What percent chance does a black male born in 1991 have of spending time in prison at some point in his life?*

Learning Extension

Here's a really cool interactive map from the Sentencing Project where you can find out more about your state's statistics on incarceration. One of the best works of non-fiction I've read in years is Michelle Alexander's inspiring The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, part of which you can read for free on Google Books.

Action Extension

Share this information with friends and family, in person or on social media. Find out what they think about this (is it good, bad, changeable?) and share their responses with class.

Bonus Chart

Here's another way of looking at this information:

*A Black male born in 1991 has a 29% chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life.

Same-Sex DiscrimiNation

AP US Government and Politics

What percentage of Americans agreed that, "businesses that provide wedding services should be required to provide those services to same-sex couples just as they would all other customers."?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprising is that data?

  3. About half of Americans are for discrimination of same-sex couple, about half are opposed to it. What is the best argument you have heard either for or against discrimination of same-sex couples?

  4. What story does the data tell about American views towards homosexuals?

  5. How do you think this data has changed over the past 20 years?* 

  6. Why do you think that is?

  7. What is one consequence of this close division over this issue?

  8. How do you think religious affiliation impacts opinion on sexual orientation?**

  9. How do you think party identification impacts opinion on sexual orientation?**

  10. Today, over 70% of Americans believe that homosexuality should not be discouraged. WOW! That is a serious majority. Why do you think that despite overwhelming support for homosexuals and their rights, Congress has not passed a law on this topic?

  11. Why do you think Democrats and Republicans have different opinions on this topic?

  12. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed to, among other things, end racial discrimination in places of public accommodation (Title II). Do you think the Congress should pass a civil rights act for 2017 outlawing discrimination of homosexuals in places of public accommodation (i.e. hotels, restaurants, bakeries, movie theaters, etc)?

  13. Later in 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in Heart of Atlanta v. U.S. that owners of public accommodations (in this case the owner of a motel) were not allowed to discriminate against people based on race. Today, December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in  Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission regarding whether the owner of a bakery should be allowed to discrimiate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Stay tuned, to get the court ruling later this year. For now, explain what you think the Supreme Court should rule in this case?

  14. How do you think the Supreme Court will rule in this case?

  15. In 1964 (over 50 years ago), the Civil Rights Act was met with a great deal of anger and resistance across the U.S. Today, very few Americans would say that they oppose laws against racial discrimination. How do you think the people who today oppose laws and rulings against sexual-orientation discrimination will feel about this topic?

  16. My wife owns and runs a bakery!!!! Yay! On a daily basis, she makes and sells, among other things, AMAZING cookies, cakes, and bread to heterosexuals and homosexuals. Explain whether you think my wife should be allowed to discriminate against people and refuse to serve them based on the following characteristics:

  • race

  • sexual orientation

  • age

  • gender

  • religion

  • political belief

  • membership in Nazi Party

Bonus Chart*

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 4.54.19 PM.png

Bonus Chart**

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Learning Extension

Read the entire Pew Research Center article on American public opinion on same-sex discrimination.

Action Extension

You can't exactly lobby the Supreme Court, but you can lobby Congress! Go speak to your US House representative or Senator and tell them what you think about same-sex orientation discrimination. If you don't have the time or ability to meet your representative in person, ask them to come to your classroom or at least contact them and share your opinion.

Education Without Representation

Are Whites more over represented (relative to their portion of the population) in universities now than they were 30 years ago?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this data tell?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is one consequence of this?

  5. Is this good?

  6. How will this personally effect you?

  7. Which group in this chart is most underrepresented and which is most over represented?

  8. Based on the data in the chart, if you could chose your race (you can't, by the way) so that you'd have the most success at getting into college, what race would you chose?

  9. How do the following demographic factors influence likelihood of college attendance: socioeconomic status, gender, religion.

  10. Explain whether you believe universities should try to roughly mirror the demographics of our country?

  11. Legacies (kids of alumni) are very over represented in colleges. Why is that, and what should be done about it?

  12. What would the following people say about the data in this chart: Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Colin Kaepernick, the average American Libertarian, a typical American Conservative, Taylor Swift, your run of the mill American Liberal, your parents, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., you.

  13. Explain whether you believe college admissions should be race-blind? (in other words, students would not list their race on their application).

  14. Explain whether our country (not your race, or my race, but the country as a whole) would be better off if our schools more accurately represented our demographics?

  15. Which of the schools in our bonus chart* does the best and the worst job on admissions? (Yes, you have to define "best"!)

  16. What is one thing the following branches of government could do about this:




    Learning Extension

    Read the whole darned NYTimes article and check out their fancy interactive charts about race and college in America.

    Action Extension

    In the Comments section below, write the best darned three sentences you can about your race and how it impacts your college future. In a thoughtful, reasonable, and measured manner, respond to one of your colleagues comments. Bonus extension: contact the president of one of the universities below* and tell them what you think of their admissions outcomes.

    Bonus Charts*

    American Feminism

    A recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll asked Americans the following question:

    Do you consider yourself to be a strong feminist, a feminist, not a feminist or an anti-feminist?

    What percent of American women responded, "not a feminist"?

    1. How accurate was your prediction?

    2. What is the big story this information tells about the American opinion of feminism?

    3. Why do you think that is?

    4. What is one consequence of this?

    5. What does the word feminism mean to you?

    6. Why do you think women and men have different answers to this question?

    7. List two government policies that you believe a feminist would support:

    8. How do you think opinions on feminism affected the 2016 presidential election?

    9. Using the data from this graph and your knowledge of American politics and history, explain why we have had an African American president, but not a female president.

    10. What is the most surprising data from this graph?

    11. Describe your reaction to the fact that one third of American men said they were either a feminist or a strong feminist.

    12. About an equal portion of American women said they were either not a feminist or an anti-feminist. Please explain your reaction to this.

    13. And what does anti-feminist mean, anyway?

    14. How do you think age affects people's opinion of feminism?*

    15. Explain your own answer to: Do you consider yourself to be a strong feminist, a feminist, not a feminist or an anti-feminist?

    16. About 1/10 of all Americans had no opinion at all about this question!!! Explain how someone could not have an opinion about this:

    17. What is another big issue that these same 10% of Americans would probably have no opinion on.

    18. In the comments section below, write a question that you think it would very difficult to have no opinion about. For example, "Do you like Donald Trump?" Or, "Would you like me to poke you in the face with this hot fork?"

    19. Which of the following words do you think best describes feminism in the US today; angry, outdated, empowering?**

    20. Who do you think is the best known feminist in America?***

    Learning Extension

    Read more of the fascinating results from the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

    Action Extension

    In class and on social media, explain whether you are a feminist or not.

    Bonus Chart*

    Bonus Chart**

    Bonus Chart***

    Take Our Survey!
    Take Our Survey!
    I am a feminist

    Race Relations

    What percentage of Americans worry "a great deal" about the problem of race relations?

    1. How accurate was your prediction?

    2. What most surprised you about this?

    3. What is the big story this chart tells?

    4. Why do you think that is?

    5. If the current trend continues, what will this chart look like in 10 more years?

    6. Explain whether this is good news.

    7. What questions do you have about this data?

    8. How much do you worry about race relations in the US?

    9. 2008 brought the US its first Black president. What affect did the Obama presidency have on this chart?

    10. Explain any connection between this chart and the rise of Donald Trump.

    11. How do you think the Trump presidency will affect race relations in the US?

    12. In 2008 95% of Black voters voted for Barack Obama; in 2016, 8 percent of Black voters chose Donald Trump. Explain this huge racial voting gap.

    13. List one policy the government could implement that would greatly improve race relations in the US:

    14. Democrats worry about race relations more than Republicans, Black more than Whites. Why do you think that is?

    15. Explain whether you believe Americans should worry about race relations.

    Learning Extension

    Check out the Gallup Report on American's attitudes about race relations.

    Action Extension

    Use this super-cool interactive exit polling data site to draw conclusions about race relations in the US. Are we the United States or not? Share your opinion in class or online.

    Bonus Chart

    Tradeoffs: Incarceration in America

    Does your state spend more on higher education or on prisons?

    1. How accurate was your prediction?

    2. How surprised are you by this map?

    3. What story does this map tell?

    4. What is the story of spending in your state?

    5. Why do you think different states make such different choices on incarceration and education spending?

    6. What questions does this map raise for you?

    7. Do you think of the higher incarceration spending states (darker) as the winners or losers?

    8. What do you predict will be the fate of the darker states in 40 to 50 years?

    9. "Every time the government incarcerates a person, they are paying them to neither work nor pay taxes." Do you agree or disagree with this statement, and what sort of people do you believe are dangerous enough to pay good money to keep off the streets?

    10. Whenever a state spends money on one area, that's money it can't spend in another area (opportunity costs). The average cost of incarcerating a federal prisoner in fiscal 2011 was about $29,000, according to the latest figures from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In my state (NC - whoop whoop!), the cost of inmate supervision averaged out to $27,000. What is something the government could buy for $29,000? Put your answer in the comments section below.

    Learning Extension

    Watch this National Academies of Sciences video on incarceration.

    Action Extension

    There has been recent bipartisan support for reform of the U.S. penal system. In February of this year, The House Judiciary Committee approved by voice vote the Corrections and Recidivism Reduction Act (H.R. 759) to, "reform the federal prison system, strengthen public safety, enhance prison security, provide inmates the help they need, and protect civil liberties." Read the House report on their criminal justice reform initiative and then contact House Judiciary Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz with your opinion about incarceration. Share your correspondence with class.