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Pathways to Justice Project: Lesson Plan

 by  Bianca D.M. Wilson and Lauren J.A. Bouton

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LGBTQ people are at higher risk of experiencing poverty. This video was developed using the findings of a study that sought to better understand the causes (family socioeconomic status, support systems, societal stigma, etc.) and effects (mental and physical health, access to resources, continued poverty, etc.) of living with a low income and how that intersects with sexual and gender minority statuses. A mixed methods approach was used to gain a more complete picture and to identify some of the complexities and parallels of various subgroups (e.g., POC, White, transgender, cisgender, women, nonbinary people, and men). For more details on the methodology, please go to the project website: .



Estimated Time: 30-60 minutes per activity depending on group size. 


Target Audience: Ages 16+ 


Settings: Highschool, college, and community-based programs for teens and adults.


Materials: Pathways video; Internet access; note-taking materials, art supplies as needed.




Provide information on the experiences of LGBTQ adults negotiating economic insecurity.


Inspire conversation about the potential causes and factors of LGBTQ poverty.


Example Activities


1. Watch the Pathways video. Discuss class answers to questions, such as: 


a. What aspect of this video was most memorable to you and why?

b. What similarities and differences did you notice among the stories shared? 

c. What pathways to poverty/barriers to financial security did you identify? 

d. In this context, what pathways/barriers are structural versus situational? 

e. What are some examples of interventions that may reduce poverty? 

f. How are social statuses relevant to the experiences shared in these quotes? With regard to sexuality, gender, racial, immigrant, disability, etc.?


2. Read the Executive Summaries of LGBT Poverty in the United States (quantitative) and Pathways into Poverty (qualitative). Discuss the following questions: 


a. What aspect of these data stood out to you and why?

b. What similarities and differences did you find between the Pathways video and qualitative study and the survey data presented in the report?  

c. What role does anonymity play in gathering data on people who are experiencing poverty or who identify as LGBTQ?  

d. What are some of the strengths for and challenges to what we can learn about LGBT poverty using the different methodologies from the two reports?

e. What are the pros and cons of both forms of disseminating data?  

f. Who are the intended audiences for each type of research reporting and what might the impact be? 


3. Draw a diagram (Venn or flowchart, for example) showing the associations, relationships, and any factors that connect poverty and LGBTQ identities. 


4. Respond to what you've learned by experimenting with a creative medium of your choosing. For example, a short essay, a drawing, photography, a comic or zine, poetry, etc. Present this to the group. 


Extension Activities


1. Research organizations locally and in your state or nationally that are focusing on these issues or one's that provide a direct service to help alleviate poverty among LGBTQ people. 


2. Volunteer or attend a meeting that's open to the public at one of these organizations and learn more about what they do and how they do it. 


3. What current legislation is in progress in your local government or what issues are being discussed by your city council that could have an effect on this issue?


Bianca D.M. Wilson and Lauren J.A. Bouton Bianca D.M. Wilson and Lauren J.A. Bouton

Bianca D.M. Wilson, is the Rabbi Zacky Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the Williams Institute. Her research focuses primarily on system-involved LGBTQ youth, LGBT poverty, and sexual health among queer women. In addition to multiple peer-reviewed and institution-published reports, she co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies that featured a multidisciplinary collection of work on health and other topics from the perspectives of Black Lesbians in the U.S., Caribbean, and South Africa. Wilson earned a doctorate in Psychology from the Community and Prevention Research program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a minor in Statistics, Methods, and Measurement, and received postdoctoral training at the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies and the UCSF Lesbian Health and Research Center through an Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) postdoctoral fellowship.


Lauren J.A. Bouton, is the Peter J. Cooper Policy Fellow and Research Data Analyst at the Williams Institute. Their research interests include qualitative and quantitative methodology, bias, attitudes, public opinion, and social change. Lauren has experience as an interviewer for studies on physical and mental health at the University of Michigan and as a statistical analyst for studies on women and racial groups among LGBT people at UCLA. Lauren holds an M.A. in Sociology with a concentration in Demography from the University of California, Irvine, and a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from Auburn University.


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Keywords: poverty, LGBTQ, United States, lesson plan, hands on