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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

The Stonewall Riots and the Birth of Gay Liberation

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike Generic 2.0 license] [via Wikimedia Commons]

Peace, love, and condemnation

We generally consider the 1960s in the United States as an era of peace and love. But the homosexual communities during this decade were commonly condemned by mainstream society.

Homosexuality was still classified as a “mental disorder” by the American Psychiatric Association. Police raids were conducted in establishments known to be “gay-friendly.” Homosexual acts were illegal, and many people were arrested for engaging in them. Some were fined; others were sentenced to long prison terms–even lifetime sentences. There were not many places where a gay man or woman could be open about their sexuality. Countless lesbians and gays lived “in the closet,” an existence in which they could not express their true selves.

The year was 1969

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, 2011 [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike Generic 2.0 license], [via Wikimedia Commons]

Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, New York City [Credit: InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 3.0] [via Wikimedia Commons]

During the 1960s, New York City was home to the largest gay population in the country. The city was also considered to be one of the most aggressive against this alternative culture.

As the night of June 27 turned to June 28, in the year 1969, the New York City police conducted what they thought would be a routine raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Previous raids always resulted in arrests and not much opposition from the bar’s patrons.

Not on this night.

On this 1969 summer night, the gay liberation movement was born.

Out of the melee, pride emerges

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, gay patrons, regularly harassed by the New York City police, took a stand. Word of the demonstration spread and many joined the riot at the Stonewall Inn. Protests broke out throughout the city. They continued for days, despite police attempts to control the crowds. Shouts of “gay power” and singing of “We Shall Overcome” rang through the streets.

The Stonewall riots inspired local and national dialogue about gay civil rights. Very soon after the riots, a gay advocacy group in NYC was formed and a newspaper was launched. In commemoration of the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades were held in Greenwich Village, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two years after the riots, nearly every major U.S. city had established a gay-rights organization. And in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Nearly five decades later…

Forty-eight years after the Stonewall riots, the gay liberation movement has evolved to encompass the civil rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Incredible strides have been made in the LGBT movement:

In 2000, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples; four years later, Massachusetts was the first to legalize gay marriage. A June 2015 Supreme Court decision legalized same-sex marriage in all states, a huge victory for the LGBT movement.

What constituted a hate crime in the United States was expanded in 2009 to include crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or identity or disability. 

In 2011, the Obama administration addressed the United Nations and announced that LGBT rights are “one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time” and that the country would support international efforts promoting LGBT rights.

Transgender rights became a mainstream issue after the turn of the century and quickly picked up momentum. By 2013, two major federal rulings advanced equal opportunity employment for transgender people. The year 2013 also heralded further progress in the struggle for transgender rights: California enacted the first U.S. law protecting transgender students, and the American Psychiatric Association eliminated its diagnosis “gender identity disorder.”

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, otherwise known as LGBT Pride Month. It was established in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It is a time of celebration, commemoration, and remembrance: a celebration of living freely, openly, and honestly; a commemoration of all that the LGBT community has contributed and what the LGBT rights movement has accomplished; and a remembrance of members of the LGBT community who lost their lives to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

Join SKS and its June Spotlight of the Month in honoring LGBT Pride Month. Learn about the history of the gay rights movement and follow its path as it is forged in the United States and many countries around the world.

“The Stonewall riot may have been the start of a civil rights movement, but it was not the beginning of our history.” ― Tom Cardamone, author, and activist

Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.

Human Rights Day is celebrated every year on December 10, to commemorate the day in 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The theme of this year’s observance, “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” aims to promote and raise awareness of the two International Covenants on Human Rights. Together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two covenants form the International Bill of Human Rights  which sets out the civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings. The theme of rights and freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and freedom from fear—is as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.

SIRS Issues Researcher’s Leading Issues covers human rights from every angle. Explore Essential Questions that include answers and supporting pro/con viewpoint articles on topics such as Universal Human Rights, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion and more. Analyze in depth by exploring a topic overview, interactive features, statistics, or global impact articles.

For even more coverage of Human Rights, turn to eLibrary. Editorially created Research Topics offer hand selected resources on topics such as Universal Human Rights and Human Rights in China, India or Iran.

How will you incorporate Human Rights Day into your classrooms and lesson plans? Comment below or tweet us at #ProQuest and let us know!

Every Day Is Human Rights Day!

Human Rights Day is observed by the international community every year on December 10, commemorating the day in 1948 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first Human Rights Day was celebrated in 1950 to bring global recognition to the Declaration as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who is credited with its inspiration, referred to the Declaration as the “international Magna Carta for all mankind.” The theme for this year’s observance is Human Rights 365, which emphasizes that every day of the year should be Human Rights Day.

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lake Success, New York, 11/1949 [Public domain], via National Archives and Records Administration

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lake Success, New York, 11/1949 [Public domain], via National Archives and Records Administration

What Are Human Rights?

“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.”–UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

SIRS Leading Issues: Human Rights via ProQuest SIRS Researcher

SIRS Leading Issues: Human Rights via ProQuest SIRS Researcher

Educators, you can make human rights the focus in your classroom every day throughout the year by turning to SIRS Issues Researcher’s Leading Issues feature. Spark debate and discussion by engaging students with Essential Questions that include answers and supporting pro/con viewpoint articles which are hand-selected by SIRS editors. Promote critical thinking skills and more in-depth analysis by exploring a topic overview, an interactive feature, a timeline, statistics and more. The “see also” section provides links to more information (including magazine and newspaper articles, government documents, primary sources, graphics and multimedia, reference materials, and websites) on related subjects such as child labor, ethnic relations, genocide, human trafficking, Holocaust denial, torture and more.

Every day really should be Human Rights Day, as the many facets of this issue have implications and significance for every person throughout the world.

Are Human Rights Universal?

Declaration of Human Rights

“Declaration of Human Rights.” Photo credit: Vibragiel via photopin cc

According the American Heritage Dictionary, human rights are the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Basic human rights are valued by some governments more than others. Regardless, citizens across cultural and geographic boundaries seek rights like freedom of expression, freedom to choose a religion, freedom from torture and the right to vote. But is the concept of human rights universal?

In SIRS Issues Researcher, ProQuest editors have posed this essential question in the Leading Issue for Human Rights, Universal.

While some stand by the belief that human rights apply to everyone regardless of their culture, there are others who believe human rights are defined and limited by where they live or their customs and day-to-day challenges.

The concept of universal human rights is outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This important document has become a highly regarded cornerstone within international law. The declaration describes over two dozen forms of human freedom.

What is your declaration?

Investigate this Leading Issue further with ProQuest resources:

 

SKS Spotlight: Rights and Responsibilities in History

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) promotes education of the public about constitutional rights through posters such as "The ACLU Illustrated Guide to the Bill of Rights." <br \> by Library of Congress, LC-Pos. 6-U.S., no. 1391 (C Size), via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher [Public Domain]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) promotes education of the public about constitutional rights through posters such as “The ACLU Illustrated Guide to the Bill of Rights.”
by Library of Congress, LC-Pos. 6-U.S., no. 1391 (C Size), via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher [Public Domain]

Learning history helps us understand global cultures and societies and how they came to be. It allows us to examine transitional events of our past and recognize these changes in our present world. Knowing our history helps us develop our personal and national identities and facilitates awareness of our place in the world. National History Day is an annual academic competition honoring the importance of history education in our daily lives. This annual academic competition invites middle- and high-school students to research a given historical theme and then share their findings and knowledge via a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or Web site. Winning entrants then compete in Regional and State competitions, and a select few move on to the National Contest.

This year’s theme, “Rights and Responsibilities in History,” asks students to think about what rights are–or what they should be–and reflect upon their significance to the living condition. What are our responsibilities in upholding our own rights, or the rights of others? Check out this month’s selection of Spotlight articles and Web sites, which provides students with a broad selection of global topics on rights–including gay rights, animal rights, and women’s rights–to inspire further research.