Foundational Anti-Hate Lessons

Foundational Anti-Hate Lessons

(Goal: explore overarching issues of hate and bias, bullying, stereotypes, and ally behavior. These lessons will also help students the chance to discuss recent experiences with hate.)

(Note to facilitators: We are still curating this list fully and will be done in a couple of weeks.)

Remember: when you’re done with your lesson(s), end your Foundational Anti-Hate #USvsHate lesson by inviting students to create anti-hate messaging in any media. (See the bottom of this resource list, and see Getting Started for instructions.)  


Words Can Hurt: Hateful Language in Schools, and What to Do About It

(This is a special subsection requested by students, who have particularly valued lessons convincing peers that words can hurt.)

What Can We Do? Bias, Bullying, and Bystanders (Film) (Human Rights Campaign/Welcoming Schools)

  • Grade Level: K12 (each could be used with older students thinking critically, even while they are also focused on younger students.)
  • Time Required: film is just 12 minutes long! Lesson follows.
  • Materials Needed:
  • Highlight: This film leads to three lesson plans.

Words That Hurt and Words That Heal (Human Rights Campaign/Welcoming Schools)

  • Grade Level: K-2 (or older)

Name Calling And Feeling Safe In School (Human Rights Campaign/Welcoming Schools)

  • Grade Level: K-5 or middle school
  • Highlight: a great activity to assess school climate-- where students are feeling safe or unsafe.

Making Decisions Ally or Bystander (Human Rights Campaign/Welcoming Schools)

  • Grade Level: 3-5, middle school, or high school
  • Highlight: Asks students to consider their responses to incidents of hate and bias.

Learning Empowerment and Self-Identification  (GLSEN)

  • Grade Level: 9-12
  • Time Required: 60 minutes
  • Materials Needed: All provided + general class supplies. Also includes a great short film!
  • Highlight: Excellent small group discussion in this activity to get students thinking about different ways people can identify themselves. Explores the labels we do and do not want to be called.

Resources from Name Calling Week. (GLSEN)

  • Grade Level: K12
  • Time Required: varies
  • Materials Needed: Be sure to check out this short, powerful film. 
  • Highlight: This resource offers lots of lessons organized by elementary, middle, and high school. Many start by asking students to think critically about hurtful words as used in their school.

Slurs, Offensive Jokes, and How to Respond (Anti-Defamation League)

  • Grade Level: middle and high school
  • Time Required: varies
  • Materials Needed:
  • Highlight: Lesson that gets students thinking head-on about slurs and their consequences.

“Pyramid of Hate” (Anti-Defamation League)

  • Grade Level:
  • Time Required:
  • Materials Needed:
  • Highlight: Students have appreciated reading and discussing this resource, to consider how slurs and hateful/harmful speech are part of larger patterns.

What Do you say to that’s So Gay? & Other LGBTQ Comments (National Education Association)

Speak Up at School: How to Respond to Everyday Prejudice, Bias and Stereotypes (Teaching Tolerance)

  • Grade Level: K12
  • Time Required: varies
  • Materials Needed:  varies
  • Highlight: This is a publication for educator professional development, but pages 8-9 and 18-23 have some ready strategies students too can try for responding to hateful/biased language.

What Difference Can A Word Make? (Facing History and Ourselves)

  • Grade Level:
  • Time Required:
  • Materials Needed:  
  • Highlight: A lesson about the positive power of words--efforts by two New Jersey high-school students to get a word, upstander, into the Oxford English Dictionary. “An upstander is an individual who sees wrong and acts, and the most important part is that anyone can become one. . . Each one of us has the power and courage to rise as upstanders, to stand up against injustice.”

Standing Up Against Bullying and Hate, and Treating Each Other With Respect

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Film, “Bully.”(Lee Hirsch/The Bully Project)

  • Grade Level: 9-12 (Content is emotional, mature, and difficult for some students. Bullying is shown and described. Suicide as a result of bullying is a major theme.)
  • Time Required: 2-3 hours (film is 98 minutes)
  • Materials Needed: Film, Guide (see below). Film can be purchased for a very low school rate from the filmmaker. It’s worth it!
  • Highlight: This is a very powerful film about how we treat each other hurtfully in schools. Film also starts a discussion about how schools, parents, and students each deal with bullying differently. This opens opportunities to make claims (with evidence) about how each stakeholder should be involved.

Note: Facing History and Ourselves [FHAO] has produced a free guide to using and discussing the film Bully.(Scroll all the way down to the teal box that says "download free pdf: requires login," and create an account to get the guide.

Understanding the concept of “universe of obligation” (Facing History and Ourselves)

  • Grade Level:
  • Time Required:
  • Materials Needed:  
  • Highlight: connects to stories of bullying or ostracism.

Bullying at School. (Facing History and Ourselves)

  • Grade Level: 9-12
  • Time Required: 50 minutes
  • Materials Needed: Reading, Questions
  • Highlight: Shows different responses to hate. ‘A bullying incident in school is often the first time a teenager is confronted with the decision of whether to be an upstander or a bystander.”

Finding Confidence (Facing History and Ourselves)

  • Grade Level:
  • Time Required:
  • Materials Needed:  
  • Highlight: A lesson about how sometimes, we bully ourselves.

Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History (Teaching Tolerance)

  • Grade Level: 6-12
  • Time Required: 40 min film plus activities (probably 2-3 classes required)
  • Materials Needed: Must order the film kit
  • Highlight: Very helpful viewer’s guide included with kit, which provides prompts for discussion and other activities.

Lesson based on the book One by Kathryn Otoshi (Teaching For Change/Black Minds Matter at School):

  • Grade Level: PK-1
  • Time Required: N/A
  • Materials Needed: Book: One, Poster materials
  • Highlight: A read aloud to show children that sometimes bullying can occur because someone feels isolated, and we can in fact come together and find common ground as long as we stand up for each other, and stand together. Discussion and role play after reading the book, then creative element of poster making with many additional extension activities.

Identity-Based Bullying (Anti-Defamation League)

  • Grade Level: 2-5
  • Time Required: N/A
  • Materials Needed: Provided worksheets, chart paper, markers
  • Highlight: Bullying scenarios provided for students to analyze; great kinesthetic warm up activity.

Experiences with Race and Racism (Anti-Defamation League)

  • Grade Level: 5-7
  • Time Required: 45-90 minutes
  • Materials Needed: Provided video, article, and handouts to print for students
  • Highlight: This lesson includes a writing activity that prompts students to reflect on their own experiences with race after watching a video and reading articles about the experiences of others.

When You're Done with Your Lesson(s):

End your Foundational Anti-Hate #USvsHate lesson by inviting students to create anti-hate messaging in any media. (See Getting Started and this Guide for instructions.)  

Schools can display these messages via school walls, activities or websites.

Any such student products (in any media) can be sent to #USvsHate at any time for broader sharing via our website and social media.

Twice a year, winning entries in an #USvsHate contest will be amplified nationally via our website and social media, and also made into free posters and stickers for participating classrooms! (see Getting Started for instructions and dates.)

#USvsHate anti-hate messages do one of the following:

  • explicitly address, explore, and refuse racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, or other hate forms in schools;
  • communicate that people across lines of difference contribute to our communities, regions, and nation;
  • bust a myth about a “type of” kid too often misrepresented;
  • ask peers to treat peers kindly and respectfully so schools stay safe for learning.
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