Coalition Building

Harvey Milk realized it was important for the LGBT community to make friends with other groups fighting for social justice issues. In 1974, The Teamsters – a powerful labor union – attempted to organize a strike against Coors Beer because they refused to sign a union contract. Milk formed a coalition with The Teamsters and helped organized a boycott. He urged the gay bars in the area to stop selling Coors. Milk’s boycott was successful and he had found a strong ally in the Teamsters. Milk was able to show solidarity by supporting the goals of the Teamsters while also showing that the gay community had the power to make change within the San Francisco community as a whole.

One of our most effective tools in fighting oppression is coalition building. Coalition building is essentially building relationships with like-minded groups with the purpose of creating a united front. This practice enables activists to form partnerships that they might not have considered. These relationships can produce new ideas that one group may not have thought of on their own.

  • How can you recognize an ally in your school?
  • What allies do you have in your school?
  • What are some steps you can take to build coalitions between different groups at your school to act in solidarity against issues like bullying, homophobia and heterosexism?

Use this worksheet to find ways you can build coalitions at your school.

Have students come up with ideas and discuss in small groups some ways that they could use a platform that addresses issues of bullying, homophobia and heterosexism in a way that shows how such issues affect the entire school community in order to build coalitions and solidarity among students.