How to Be Inclusive When Teaching Your Students About Women’s History
What is Intersectionality?
Kimberlé Crenshaw first conceptualized the theory of intersectionality in 1989. Every person has intersecting social identities that place them in a unique position in society, depending on the social structures of power. Intersectionality in practice is about seeing students as complex human individuals living within a society of intersecting structures of oppression.
Empowering Marginalized Individuals Through Intersectionality
To best educate future civic leaders on the social identities that influence our lived experiences, teachers must approach this topic with integrity and compassion. Demarginalizing the countless intersections of structural oppression is a crucial step towards dismantling those systems of oppression and empowering individuals with intersectional marginalized identities.
With intersectionality in mind, it’s important to center not just the voices of cisgender females when we teach students about Women’s History Month but also the voices of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled individuals.
About Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California, as part of their Women’s History Week celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement quickly spread across the country.
In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress designated March as Women’s History Month, and each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as Women’s History Month since 1995.
Resources on Women’s History Month and Intersectionality
We encourage you to incorporate the accomplishments and works of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled individuals as you teach about women’s history, so check out the resources below for ideas!
2021 Women's History Month Resource Toolkit – The 2021 Women's History Month Resource Toolkit is filled with links to biographies, events, and virtual exhibits to celebrate this important month and traditionally overlooked women like Sylvia Rivera, as well as current icons like Stacey Abrams and Cori Bush.
Academy 4SC – Academy 4SC has several videos related to intersectionality. Teachers have access to resources like worksheets, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more, included in each topic’s lesson plan. Explore Academy 4SC’s full library of applicable content under the tag Intersectionality.
Understanding Intersectionality – Understanding Intersectionality, an inclusive lesson plan from PBS, is an excellent resource for approaching the topic of intersectionality with students. This resource provides material accessible for students from middle school through high school. The lesson plan includes additional strategies for including ELL learners and a link to the same lesson plan in Spanish. This lesson is part of a larger collection and can be used separately as an introduction to intersectionality as a social concept.
We hope these resources help you and your students have a happy and inclusive Women’s History Month! For more helpful content compiled by our team of educational professionals, browse through our Cross Country Education blog.