The Lavender Scare
    old church

    A Powerful Tool for Effective Social Action

    The success of such films as Brokeback Mountain and Milk demonstrates the wide acceptance of films about gay characters. The Lavender Scare will appeal to a mainstream audience eager for original and relevant documentary films.

    This is not a story about a moment frozen in time. It speaks directly to issues that are critically important today to our society in general and the LGBT community in particular.

    • In the 1950s, it was said that the acceptance of homosexuality would promote the moral decay of our society. Today, opponents of marriage equality say the same thing.

    • In the 1950s, it was said that allowing homosexuals to serve in government positions would threaten national security, create "homosexual cliques," and destroy morale. Today, those who would reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell -- or something even worse -- make the same arguments.

    • In the 1950s, politicians discovered that the "gay issue" could be used as a powerful weapon against their opponents. Today, opponents of LGBT equality use discriminatory ballot initiatives to drive voter turnout.

    Beyond its relevance to the historic struggles of the LGBT community, The Lavender Scare shines a light on the broader issue of discrimination in our society, particularly during times when people feel threatened -- whether by Communism during the cold war or terrorism today. It can inform and encourage a discussion about the delicate balance between freedom and national security, and serve as a cautionary tale about the ease with which any minority group can become the target of a politically motivated witch hunt.

    The Lavender Scare will be more than just an informative and entertaining documentary. It will be a call to action.

    We will create a variety of resources to accompany the film, designed to convert the emotional power of this compelling story into real results in the fight for LGBT equality.

    At School

    We will provide the tools necessary to make it easy for educators to use The Lavender Scare to its fullest advantage at both the secondary school and college levels. In partnership with leading national organizations that work to promote the teaching of LGBT history, we will develop:

    • A curriculum guide containing detailed lesson plans

    • A discussion guide highlighting key issues

    • A comprehensive collection of primary source government documents available for download from our website

    • Ideas for classroom-based activities, including materials to facilitate role play activities designed to give students an understanding of the arguments of various sides

    • A list of additional resources and suggestions for further reading

    In addition, to facilitate its use within a classroom schedule, we will create a variety of user-friendly versions of the film, including a three-part set divided into discrete sections (each focusing on a specific point of the curriculum), and a stand-alone introductory edition providing a complete overview of the subject matter.

    The award-winning book The Lavender Scare, upon which the documentary is based, is the work of nationally known historian David K. Johnson. Published by the University of Chicago Press, it is the result of his groundbreaking doctoral research at Northwestern University, and as such was subject to rigorous peer review. It has great credibility among educators and is now required reading in history classes at scores of colleges and universities around the country, including:

    Amherst College
    Brown University
    San Diego State
    Florida International University
    California State, Fullerton
    Yale University
    City University of New York
    University of Iowa
    University of Nevada
    University of Michigan
    Indiana University
    University of Vermont
    Northwestern University
    George Washington University
    Temple University
    University of Alabama
    University of Illinois
    Northwestern University
    University of Georgia
    University of Connecticut
    University of California
    University of Chicago
    University of Wisconsin
    University of Delaware
    University of Southern Mississippi
    Illinois State University
  • Similarly, the film will have instant credibility among scholars, and we expect it to be received enthusiastically by those who develop syllabi in the fields of American history, political science, gender and sexuality.

    This year, the state of California enacted legislation that mandates the teaching of LGBT history throughout the school system. As other states and localities (hopefully) follow that lead, there will be an increasing demand for teaching tools that engage and inform students. The Lavender Scare will play an important role in that process.

    In the Community

    We will create a comprehensive tool kit that will give community groups, social service organizations and gay-straight alliances the resources they need to easily and efficiently use the film as a catalyst for effective social action.

    We will guide organizations through the process of setting up local screenings, house parties and panel discussions, and we will identify specific ways for an individual to make small but meaningful contributions.

    • Does your state have a law that prohibits discrimination in employment? Who supports it? Opposes it? Write to them. (We'll provide the background research.)

    • Does your company protect the rights of individual employees? We’ll show you how to effectively lobby the boss.

    • Does your school district include LGBT issues in its curricula, support gay-straight alliances, and address the issue of bullying? Let them know that these are matters that matter to you! We’ll provide step-by-step guidance to show you how.

    • Parents: talk to your kids. Kids: talk to your parents. A screening of The Lavender Scare is the perfect vehicle to frame a thoughtful discussion of the issues facing LGBT Americans. We’ll have sample videos to get you prepared.

    By presenting an absorbing, character-driven story through the lens of history, The Lavender Scare will be able to make a compelling and effective argument without having to seem preachy.

    At the Workplace

    Many corporations now understand that diversity and respect for the individual is not just the right thing to do. It's also good business. The Lavender Scare can play an important role in raising awareness of the issues faced by LGBT people in a work environment.

    In partnership with organizations that target workplace discrimination, we will provide companies with the tools they need to set up screenings and panel discussions tailored to their unique situations.

    There is solid evidence that this kind of outreach is in demand and can be effective. Five years after its release, the award winning film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, which tells the story of the civil rights leader who dared to live openly as a gay man, continues to be used extensively by corporations, law firms, and governmental agencies to raise awareness of the issues of discrimination and equality. 

    Through the stories of LGBT Americans whose lives were ruined by workplace discrimination, The Lavender Scare can empower businesses to effectively communicate a message of dignity and respect for all their employees.