The Personal is Political

Proposition 6 was an initiative on the California ballot in November of 1978. This initiative sought to ban gays, lesbians, and any supporters of gay rights activism from working in California public schools. For example, if a high school teacher came out as gay or lesbian, he or she could be fired. Likewise, a teacher who expressed their support of politicians like Harvey Milk or attended a rally for LGBTQ rights could also be fired. It’s no wonder GSAs didn’t exist in the 1970’s!

Harvey Milk played an important role in campaigning against and ultimately defeating the initiative. Research Milk’s involvement with Proposition 6 and share what you find with your GSA!

Use the following questions to explore how legislation like Proposition 6 can affect several communities at the same time.

Click here to download a timeline of Harvey Milk’s life that shows how his work with Proposition 6 fits in the rest of his career.

  • What target group did Proposition 6 seek to oppress?
  • How did Proposition 6 oppress this target group?
  • In what ways does an initiative like Proposition 6 affect people who are not directly targeted (citizens of the state of California, children, parents, etc.)?
  • Can you think of an issue you or someone you know has faced at your school that had an indirect effect on other people? For example, if one of your friends was a victim of a racist verbal attack, how could that affect members of other minority groups?
  • What issues in your school or community should your GSA raise awareness of? Does your LGBT community have allies that you should work to protect?