Adopting an intersectional approach means understanding that everyone has multiple identities—some visible and some invisible. But to truly understand intersectionality is to include identity and oppression in the conversation.
This toolkit for “Teaching at the Intersections” illustrates specific elements of the Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework (ABF) and Perspectives for a Diverse America—standards, essential questions and central texts—that can be used to build student understanding of identity and oppression.
- How does intersectionality relate to identity and justice?
- How can intersectionality be applied within the framework of anti-bias education to teach about multiple identities and oppression?
The ABF is a set of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into four domains—identity, diversity, justice and action. The standards provide a common language and organizational structure for K-12 anti-bias education. Two anchor standards stand out in the ABF as particularly useful in thinking about intersectionality:
Identity 3 (ID.3): “Students will recognize that peoples’ multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals.”
Justice 14 (JU.14): “Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.”
Perspectives for a Diverse America, Teaching Tolerance’s free, literacy-based, anti-bias curriculum, integrates the ABF with two other key components—the Central Text Anthology and Integrated Learning Plan.
Below are examples of how Perspectives can help teach about multiple identities (ID.3) and power and privilege (JU.14 ) to students in grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Each example incorporates a grade-level outcome, an essential question and text titles. Log in to Perspectives to explore further and build your own learning plan with tasks and strategies! (Free registration required.)
ID.K-2.3: I know that all my group identities are part of me—but that I am always ALL me.
Essential Question: What groups do I belong to?
Literature: My Name Was Hussein (excerpt) by Hristo Kyuchukov (religion, race and ethnicity)
JU.K-2.14: I know that life is easier for some people and harder for others and the reasons for that are not always fair.
Essential Question: How do I know when people are being treated unfairly?
“The Emerald Lizard: A Guatemalan Tale of Helping Others” by Pleasant L. DeSpain (class)
ID.3-5.3: I know that all my group identities are part of who I am, but none of them fully describes me and this is true for other people too.
Essential Question: How does being a member of multiple groups change me?
“Julia Moves to the United States” by Sean McCollum (immigration)
JU.3-5.14: I know that life is easier for some people and harder for others based on who they are and where they were born.
Essential Question: How is my life easier or more difficult based on who I am and where I was born?
ID.6-8.3: I know that overlapping identities combine to make me who I am and that none of my group identities on their own fully defines me or any other person.
Essential Question: How do different parts of our identities combine to make us who we are?
“Why Chicken Means so Much to Me” from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (class, race and ethnicity)
“We Live by What We See at Night” by Martin Espada (place, immigration)
JU.6-8.14: I know that all people (including myself) have certain advantages and disadvantages in society based on who they are and where they were born.
Essential Question: How do differences in power and privilege influence the relationships we have with each other?
ID.9-12.3: I know that all my group identities and the intersection of those identities create unique aspects of who I am and that this is true for other people too.
Essential Question: How do our intersecting identities shape our perspectives and the way we experience the world?
JU.9-12.14: I am aware of the advantages and disadvantages I have in society because of my membership in different identity groups, and I know how this has affected my life.
Essential Question: How do power and privilege impact the relationships people have with each other as well as with institutions?