Monthly Archives: March 2012

Teaching the book “Luna”

Julie Anne Peters‘ book Luna is a perfect book to use as a teaching tool.  (Luna Lesson Plan)

Book Info

In the book, Perters explores family dynamic and gender roles in this book about a transgendered teen ~ Liam/Luna ~ and their sister, Regan.  The book is told through Liam’s sister’s point of view and has a series of flashbacks.  As the book progresses, we see how Liam’s wanting to transition and other things like Liam not wanting to conform to their father’s expectations of being a male effects Regan and how she handles this.

Book Reviews

One blogger who runs the site “Brusk Up On Your Reading” posted a review that states:

I loved that it discussed something as hugely misunderstood as transgender, and that the author did not shrink from laying the truth bare about these individuals

Jack Radish of “YA Book Review” stated:

While I’m a huge advocate of incidentally trans characters in teen literature, I was still a little bothered by this story.

On “The Uncustomary Book Review,” Kat Kiddles stated:

Usually, I am not a huge fan of books that are assigned to me. However, once I started reading Luna, I could not put it down.

As you can see, there are some mixed views on the book, yet for the most part, there are more positive reviews for it.  Which, I believe, is very encouraging for a good reason why this book that can be taught.

Possible Reading Schedule

There are two different ways that this book can be taught with a teaching schedule:

  • If class meets one day a week, then the whole book can be read for one week
  • If the class meets two days a week, have half of the book read for each class period.
  • If the class meets three days a week ~ or more than that if it’s a high school class ~ figure out how many chapters you want to assign for reading taking into account enough time for discussing.  A possible way is to do so would be to divide the number of chapters by the how many days you want to discuss the book
Discussion Questions

There are many different questions that can be clearly be brought up, which you’ll notice once you’ve read the book.  Here is a good starting list:

  1. What is the different between being Transgender and being Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual?
  2. What are some of the gender roles that are shown in this book and why do they play a role in the book?
  3. The parent’s reactions to Liam are both different when Liam comes out to them about how he’s transgendered.  We see this through the book ~ not just about Liam coming out ~ about how Liam prefers more feminine things than masculine.  How does this effect Liam’s transition to Luna?

These three questions, along with the ones that the students should have, should be enough to start a lengthy discussion.

Resources for Questions

For the first question on the difference between Transgender and being Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual, the following websites are helpful teaching aids:

With the Gender Roles question, these links should be helpful:

  • has a page about gender roles.
  • There is a one post blog that gender roles.  This blog post breaks down several different things that go into gender roles, such as cultural aspects that go into gender roles.
  • Keep Safe Stay Cool (a website from Australia) has a page about Gender Roles & Stereotypes.

The paper that you will require from the students should be focused on Gender Roles and how they play a role in the book with Transgender identity or something along those lines while using examples from the book.  The reason why this topic ~ or something along those lines ~ should involved gender issues for a book that deals with a transgender character is because of how gender roles are extra confusing for someone who is confusing.

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Rent, The Movie

The movie Rent lends itself too for a good unit.  (Lesson Plan PDF)  For this film, what I see to be a good reason to use this film in a class about LGBT issues and literature is the three different relationships: Roger and Mimi, Collins and Angel, and the final couple being Maureen and Joanne ~ you could throw in the possibility of including Mark in this couple due to the fact that he use to date Maureen and there are still hints of him having feelings for her.

It goes without saying that watching this film in class.  Depending then on the length of your class period and how many days you meet, you will of course have to budget enough time you think is a fair amount of time for the discussion afterwords.  The main thing that you may want your class to discuss and pay attention are to the relationships in this movie.  This isn’t due to the fact that they are the main theme in the film, but because the relationships deal a verity of different issues.

The Relationships with Paper Topic Ideas

With Roger and Mimi, the main thing that this couple deals with is Mimi’s drug use.  This is due to the fact that Roger had lost his last girlfriend to April to learning that both Roger and she had AIDS, which they acquired from their drug use days.  In the lesson plan, I mention the paper is a to be a critical essay on the relationships in the movie.  What I would suggest is to encourage whomever in your class(es) decide to use this couple as their paper topic, have them critically analyze the AIDs effects Rogers and Mimi’s relationship or to critically compare their relationship in terms of how it compared to the other two couples we are introduced to in the film.

Now, when it comes to Collins and Angel’s relationship, we are introduced not only an intercultural relationship ~ which we also see with our third couple ~ but the added layer of Angel being a drag queen.  We also see the same issue of the fact that Collins and Angel both are AIDS positive.  With this couple, the fact that we have these differences than the other two couples, Collins and Angel are probably the couple that has the most to offer to in terms of paper topics:  intercultural relationship, AIDS in LGBT Men and why Mimi is the only main female character that has this particular STD in the film.

With our last couple, Maureen and Joanne portray the lesbian with Maureen being the flirt ~ with everyone ~ and Joanne being the easily jealous girlfriend.  During the course of the movie, these two are the only ones to have gone through a relationship to a commitment ceremony of sorts to breaking up at their commitment ceremony.  This couple brings to the table for the paper how even though the LGBT community has to fight harder for the same rights for marriage, there’s still that chance of a LGBT couple to break up afterwords.

In Class Discussion Ideas

For the discussion portion of this movie activity, use some of the things I pointed out above about the relationships.  Also, discussion on AIDS and HIV might be a good incorporation to this lesson.  The reason is because it will allow you to discuss how this particular STD doesn’t discriminate in terms of sexual orientation or color.

Another possible and encourage topic of discussion is to discuss Angel’s role of being a Drag Queen in Angel and Collins’ relationship.  This is an important area to discuss because you can ask your students about how this possibly made their relationship slightly easier throughout the film and how a gay couple that has one member who is a drag queer and if it makes it easier or harder.

A final thing that you can discuss is how Maureen use to date Mark, but we only see her in a relationship with another woman in this film.  The reason why this is an important thing to bring up during the discussion is because you should – as a class discuss if Maureen can be considered “bi” or a “lesbian” in the film.  Through out the film, I don’t believe she directly calls herself a lesbian; but regardless, we presume that now she is lesbian.  So this is something that needs to be discussed: can or should we only label people ~ in TV shows and movies at least ~ to only be gay or straight?

Other Resources For Film/Discussion/Paper

Here are some possible resources for this unit:

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Degrassi on Accepting Sexual Orientation

This lesson (Accepting of Sexual Orientation Lesson Plan) is similar to the on Degrassi on Coming Out.  The main difference is that we see the personal acceptance that has to happen with yourself.  Another difference is how Riley ~ unlike Marco ~ has to deal with acceptance of his sexual orientation while handling being in a traditional position of masculinity in terms of being on the football team.

The clips for this lesson can be found at this YouTube link:

These clips cover a wide range of subject matter in terms of what you may want, but depending on what exactly you are looking for, but all of the clips provide a wide selection of issues that you may want to cover.  We see Riley going from kissing Peter and not willing to accept his sexual orientation to using steroids to become stronger guy to anger issues to finally accepting to his sexual orientation and coming out too his mother.

The best thing to do with this lesson is to dedicate a week’s worth of class to it if you’re a high school teacher or to assign the viewing of these videos on your student’s own.  This way, you can have the time to view the videos and have time to discuss theme.

Some discussion questions can include:

  • Why do you think Riley had a hard time accepting his sexual orientation?
  • Throughout a good portion of the arch of Riley’s acceptance of his sexual orientation, Peter seems to be a key figure in this.  How does Peter grow himself?
  • What do you think would be the hardest thing about coming to terms about your sexual orientation?
  • How do you think you would handle being in Riley’s shoes?  Would you act the same way?

These discussion questions could possibly double as possible essay questions for both a paper or a test.

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Degrassi on Coming Out

Canada’s TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation touches on the coming out process for the LGBT community  faces.  They explored this with the character Marco.  For this lesson (TV On Coming Out Lesson Plan PDF), focuses on this process that Marco went through.

These are the videos that I feel showcase this process for Marco from the episodes “Pride: Part 1” and “Pride: Part 2” of Degrassi:

Show the first 30 seconds of this video

Show this whole video:

What would be the best thing to do for this lesson is that once you watch these clips (or if you want, you can buy the episode from iTunes to watch the view the full episode) is to discuss the homophobic behavior that Marco faces once he comes out.

Some discussion ideas can be as follows:

  • How do you think if you where in Marco’s position?
  • Do you think your friends would act like Jimmy, Spinner, or a mixture of the two?
  • How would you feel about the use of homophobic language that is used in these clips?

This lesson and video clips are best suited for tenth graders and higher.  I believe that you could possibly argue for a ninth grade class to view this; but I believe that this would depend on the school if you pushed hard enough.

I believe that this would lesson would be adaptable only to the degree of viewing the full episode.  Otherwise, the only other adaptation would be having the students write up a review of the clips.

Categories: Lesson Plan, TV Show | 1 Comment

LGBT History Month Paper

For this paper (Lesson Plan PDF), the purpose is to teach how to use MLA or APA citation methods while having the students research possible topics that handle important dates for the LGBT community.


Here is a list of sample resources for you to use as possible examples of good resources for this paper:

Another possible teaching method on resources is how to use Wikipedia as a resource.  How this can work is that during a class period, you can have your students go to the LGBT History Month wikipedia page that they would like and to click on the links in the Reference area and the External Links areas.

Sample Research Topics

Since there isn’t a simple go to list of topics, here is an easy list of LGBT Historical events:

This paper should help to promote the understanding of historical events for the LGBT community as well as how to use proper citation.  I would suggest use the Purdue OWL Website to as a good website as a reference site for teaching students how to use MLA or APA citation.

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