This Valentine’s Day activity from Teaching Tolerance provides insight into Valentine’s Day’s roots as a holiday of resistance. It also highlights the injustices that can occur during this holiday — “moments of exclusion and ostracism, assumptions of a heterosexual norm” — and draws a parallel between the ban on gay marriage and the ban on soldier marriage that may be behind Valentine’s Day’s origin. One interesting way to use the ideas in this activity with a more advanced class would be to take a more traditional Valentine’s Day activity (like this board game) and look at it through a critical lens, having students address questions like this:
- Where, in this activity, might someone feel ostracized or excluded?
- Where can we see assumptions of heterosexuality?
- If a student wanted to keep their sexual orientation private, could they? Or could there be pressure in this activity for them to “out” themselves?
- How could we change the language of the game to make it more inclusive?
Note that the link to resources on the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (part of the grade 9-12 activity) is broken. It should probably go here.