About the program

A product of the Stonewall National Education Project of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives

This program was made possible by a grant from the Contigo Fund of Our Fund Foundation


Following the tragedy in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016, Stonewall National Museum & Archives created a collection to house artifacts from remembrance vigils and memorial events. Stonewall National Museum & Archives is committed to being more than a physical home for archival history. Through exhibitions like this, and accompanying education programs, we can document and make accessible the history of both the triumphs and struggles of the LGBTQ community.

This is the story of the attack on Pulse Nightclub. The exhibition remembers the forty-nine lives lost, places the tragedy in the context of recurring violence against marginalized communities throughout American history, highlights the overwhelming and awe-inspiring response of the nation and the world, and then invites us to stand up to hate while celebrating our diversity.

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

These panels and more are available to schools across the country with an accompanying leader’s guide. Spanish language version available upon request. For more information, email Emery@Stonewall-Museum.org

Excerpt from Leader's Guide

Understanding the Orlando Tragedy: A Brief Synopsis and Background

This is the story of the attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on that terrible night of June 12, 2016. The exhibit places the tragedy in the context of recurring violence against other marginalized communities throughout American history. It also highlights the overwhelming and awe-inspiring response of the nation and the world, and finally provides us with questions and issues to ponder as we consider the meaning of what has taken place and a potential way forward.

The central underlying theme of the exhibit, we believe, is that hatred has consequences. It robs people of their dignity, their sense of well-being, their hope for the future, and their place within their families and communities. Ultimately, hatred robs us of the people we love and cherish.

Using the Exhibit in Your School

The exhibit, geared for learning programs in a middle and high school setting, includes six panels and this Leader’s Guide. The Stonewall National Museum’s Orlando 49 Exhibit contains everything you will need for your district or school to provide students with a rich, comprehensive and LGBTQ inclusive examination of this event. It explores similar events which have occurred to marginalized groups throughout American history.

The exhibition panels are offered in both English and Spanish to ensure accessibility to more students.

Discussion questions are included, along with universal examples of similar incidents of hate crime. The questions for discussion on the final panel address students’ thoughts on the implications of the Orlando tragedy as they address themes of intersectionality, multi-cultural understanding, and relationships in today’s school environments.

The exhibit can be used in a variety of ways:

  • For display in school corridors, the school media center, the central office lobby, or any other location where large numbers of people assemble. It is also appropriate for display at the district central office or in the board room. They may be presented in any order that meets the needs of the school.
  • As part of a media center project fair.
  • For class discussion or small group instruction in a classroom or extra-curricular setting such as a GSA Club.
  • For exhibition across the front of the classroom above the whiteboard, and utilized during the lessons planned to discuss violence, bigotry, prejudice, the marginalization of minority populations in society, or simply growing up in America today.
  • As resource material for small group independent work with each group having a specific assignment related to the content of the exhibit. For example, each small group could be assigned a different panel.
  • As a resource to use with parents visiting the school for a community or school based event or meeting.
  • Teachers might wish to use the panels singly as a warm-up at the beginning of the class period. In this way, students can go into greater depth about the implications of the exhibition content, perhaps read additional resource material, and compare and contrast this event with other incidents of terrorism or violence directed at marginalized communities.
  • Infused into the curriculum themes and school-wide themes of justice, history, and civil rights in social studies or history courses. The panels can also be included in psychology, peer mediation studies, English, ESOL, drama, art, dance, music, science, and even PE classes where sections of the curriculum are devoted to emphasizing respect for others and their differences.
  • Students can interact with online exhibition panels and resources for broader understanding and development.

The exhibition has been constructed to become the centerpiece of a single lesson about the tragedy at Pulse in Orlando, or the basis for lengthier study. It can become a case study to illustrate the issues uncovered by the event, including discussion of prejudice and violence that is racially, ethnically, or gender driven.

The panels are not numbered. Instead they have titles based upon their content. This allows them to become interchangeable given the preference or purpose of the teacher or group leader. The teacher can use them singly, in pairs, or as an entire group. For example, the panel illustrating a history of violent acts against marginalized groups might become part of a social studies lesson on intergroup relations or on prejudice. It can also become the first panel presented when discussing the Orlando tragedy, or it can become source material for a project undertaken by a small committee exploring violent acts that have been committed against immigrants or against African Americans. In sum, the teacher has an opportunity to customize the use of the panels in any way that they see fit to provide support for the content of the lesson.

The panels vary in their emotional impact upon some students. Some panels provide facts, others might elicit deep emotion among students depending upon their backgrounds and life experiences. Teachers should use their own judgment in determining how to present the panels as part of a classroom activity. Teachers might also wish to work in groups to plan ways to purposefully channel instruction that could elicit feelings of vulnerability and fear in some students.

Finally, the Orlando 49 Exhibit is intended to become only one aspect of a school’s instructional program on this and/or related topics. It provides a starting point! We hope that by using the exhibit panels, you will generate a host of ideas and possibilities for further exploration and development.

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