(Washington, D.C.) Today, in celebration of Pride Month and on the anniversary of Title IX, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is launching Brick by Brick, a first-of-its-kind project designed to build and inspire current and future advocates and activists. Brick by Brick is an advocacy curriculum that centers the experiences and identities of LGBTQ+ students of color, and can be adapted to suit a variety of learning settings. It includes “know-your-rights” education, histories that are not commonly shared or centered, assignments that encourage students to take on roles as advocates and leaders, individual and group projects, and makes use of multiple forms of media for experiential learning. Brick by Brick teaches students how to work toward change in their schools, and in the world beyond.
“It’s urgent that LGBTQ+ students of color feel seen and powerful,” said creator of Brick by Brick, and Tom Steel Fellow at NWLC, Noelia Rivera-Calderón. “The history of advocacy is the history of LGBTQ+ people of color, who have been leaders in every movement for justice. As a former student and teacher, I’ve experienced firsthand the devastating impact when students are not represented in the curriculum. And now, attacks by the Trump Administration on heroic student-led efforts from gun reform to efforts to address sexual assault on school campuses, make this curriculum all-the-more critical. Brick by Brick addresses severe barriers by lending skills and knowledge to the students already fighting and preparing the next generation of leaders.”
NWLC partnered with SMYAL to create the inaugural Brick by Brick Youth Advocacy Fellowship which included a group of four student fellows, all youth advocates in their own right, who consulted and worked directly on developing and launching the Brick By Brick curriculum, using their expertise to strengthen the resource for students nationwide.
“Brick by Brick is my opportunity to do more for my community, to do something that matters,” said student fellow, Awaneh Sawaneh. “I have been working to change the way things are in the school system before Brick by Brick. I, along with some of my friends pushed for a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) in my former school. It was my first taste of activism – fighting for what is right, fighting against a system I know is wrong. Although we could never get the GSA, I continued my activism with my writing and poetry. And now I’m honored to be a part of Brick by Brick. We are going to change the school system and I want to be part of that.”
Designed for middle school and high school students, the program is flexible, and can be taught by classroom educators and used in youth after-school programs including GSAs/QSAs. It also offers a standalone lesson for educators who cannot commit to the roughly ten-session schedule. The curriculum has been adapted for virtual classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.