Outlawing Hate
Article Index
Outlawing Hate
Page 2
All Pages

Reflecting on September 11
Fostering Diversity
Outlawing Hate

In this lesson, students examine issues surrounding hate crimes. First, students read and discuss an article on hate crimes. Then in small groups, students role play state legislators and supporters and opponents of hate-crime legislation who must discuss and vote on a bill designed to increase sentences for hate crimes.

Focus Discussion
Ask students: “If a person murders another person because of his race, culture, religion, or sexual orientation, do you think the person should be punished more severely than other murderers?” Hold a brief discussion.

Reading and Discussion
1. Read Outlawing Hate below.
2. Hold a brief discussion using the following questions:
  • What are hate crimes?
  • How serious do you think the problem of hate crimes is in the United States? Explain.
  • Do you think states and the federal government should pass hate-crime legislation? Explain.

Small-Group Activity--Considering a Hate-Crime Bill
Step 1. Remind students that many states are considering adopting hate-crime legislation. Tell students they are going to role play a legislative session on a proposed hate-crime law. Write the following proposed law on the board:

Anyone who intentionally selected the victim of the crime because of the victim’s race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry shall have his or her sentence increased by 30 percent over the normal sentence.

Step 2. Divide the class into groups of three. Assign each student in each triad one of these three roles: state legislator, supporter of the bill, opponent of the bill.

Step 3. Have all the legislators, supporters, and opponents meet separately to prepare for the role play. Tell the supporters and opponents to think up their best arguments and tell the legislators to think of questions to ask each side. Tell everyone to refer to the reading.

Step 4. Regroup into triads and begin the role play. The legislator should let the supporter speak first and then have the opponent speak. The legislator should ask questions of both. After both sides present, have the legislators move to the front of the room, discuss the proposed law, and vote. Each legislator should individually state his or her opinion on the bill.

Step 5. Debrief by asking what were the strongest arguments on each side.