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


The Ultimate Student Test Prep. Prepare for the AP® US Government and Politics Exam from home! Download your own DIGITAL TEST REVIEW BOOK - RIGHT NOW! Tons of great review material for all 5 units! FRQ workshops with practice questions for all 4 FRQs. 50 BRAND NEW AP® exam-ready multiple choice questions with test key. Get Your Review On!

Add To Cart

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.