EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT DEBATES:

THEN & NOW

The fight for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) began a century ago when Alice Paul first penned the amendment in 1923.  Women’s Liberation Movement arose out of the national Civil Rights struggle, and second-wave feminists took up the ERA again in the 1960s. The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to be ratified by the states. It was a highly contentious topic with organizations rallying to get it passed or to stop it. By 1982, the ERA had failed to receive the required 3/4 majority needed to pass. Since then, the ERA has had little political support until Virginia became the last state needed to ratify the amendment on January 15, 2020. In this lesson, students will use local newspaper articles and national sources to understand both sides of the Equal Rights Amendment debate then and now. Students will be separated into four teams to debate the issue. Each group is responsible for developing an argument using evidence from the primary source material and secondary sources provided. Students will learn the significance of amending the U.S. Constitution and immerse themselves in the various issues that continue to spur debate around the ERA.

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.

Stop Reganism March and Rally at Fresno's Courthouse Park, May 22, 1982. Courtesy of the Howard K. Watkins Photographic Archive. 

LESSON, DEBATE MATERIALS, AND SOURCES BY TEAM

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LESSON PLAN - Equal Rights Amendment Debates: Then and Now

Fresno County Historical Society.

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Lesson Plan Handouts

Fresno County Historical Society.

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Gini Beqiri. "Complete Guide to Debating: How to Improve your Debating Skills."  VirtualSpeech, August 1, 2018.

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"The Debating Cheat Sheet." St Leonard's College, Melbourne, Australia. 

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"How to Debate." Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada.

TEAM 1 & 3: PRO-EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT THEN AND NOW 
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Equal Rights Amendment. Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Second Session, Ninety Second Congress, March 23, 1972.

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“Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Principles and Policies.” Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Philadelphia, PA, June 1973. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Records, Special Collections Research Center, California State University, Fresno.

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Betty Friedan. “The National Organization For Women's 1966 Statement of Purpose.” The National Organization For Women. Washington, D.C., October 29, 1966.

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Phyllis Schlafly debates Betty Friedan on the Equal Rights Amendment. Good Morning America, January 28, 1976. Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. YouTube. 

Desa C. Belyea. “Who Decides What She Will Wear?” The Fresno Bee, May 11, 1964. Newspapers.com.

“Full Emancipation.” The Fresno Bee, June 30, 1964. Newspapers.com.

Joy Miller. “World Mellows on Question of Women.” The Fresno Bee, January 31, 1966. Newspapers.com.

Desa C. Belyea. “We Are Our Own Worst Enemies.” The Fresno Bee, January 31, 1966. Newspapers.com.

Pamela Dugan. “Feminist Pleads: Give Us Equality.” The Fresno Bee, October 25, 1968. Newspapers.com.

Robert Slater. “Pipe Smoking Woman Legislator Puffs For Equality of Sexes.” The Fresno Bee, April 26, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Gay Pauly. “After 50 Years Woman Still 'Have A Long Way To Go' For Rights.” The Fresno Bee, June 4, 1969. Newspapers.com.

“So What Else Is New? Women Marched, Spoke Up 50 Years Ago.” The Fresno Bee, August 24, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Patricia McCormack. “A Pension Plan For Housewives?” The Fresno Bee, September 4, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Helen Bottel. “Working Gal Thanks Libbers.” The Fresno Bee, September 6, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Roy McGhee. “Women Quit Drive Rather Than Retreat.” The Fresno Bee, November 19, 1970. Newspapers.com.

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Donna Goodman. “The Untold Side of Second Wave Feminism: A Multinational, Politically Diverse Movement.” LiberationSchool.org, March 21, 2019.

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Michael DeMarco. “An Analysis of Arguments Against the ERA.” Alice Paul Institute, August 20, 2018.

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Editorial. “Pumping Life into the Equal Rights Amendment.” The New York Times, March 25, 2017.

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“Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment.” EqualRightsAmendment.org.

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“The Equal Rights Amendment.” Feminist Majority. 

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Natalie Regoli. “21 Strongest Pros and Cons of the Equal Rights Amendment.” ConnectUSfund.org, April 4, 2019.

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Sydney Hamilton. “Arguments For and Against the Equal Rights Amendment.” Policy Perspectives, The George Washington University, November 21, 2019.

TEAM 2 & 4: ANTI-EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT THEN AND NOW

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Equal Rights Amendment. Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Second Session, Ninety Second Congress, March 23, 1972.

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Phyllis Schlafly. “What's Wrong With ‘Equal Rights’ For Women?” The Phyllis Schlafly Report. February 1972, Vol. 5, No. 7. EagleForum.org

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Phyllis Schlafly discusses the Equal Rights Amendment. The Mike Douglas Show, July 1979. Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. YouTube. 

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Phyllis Schlafly Interview on the Women's Movement. The Merv Griffin Show, 1978. Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. YouTube. 

James Kilpatrick. “Equal Rights For Harpies.” The Fresno Bee, August 17, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Hal Boyle. “What Is It Women Really Want.” The Fresno Bee, August 24, 1970. Newspapers.com.

“Counter March.” The Fresno Bee, August 24, 1970. Newspapers.com.

Clayton Fritchey. “Liberating Men May Be Result.” The Fresno Bee, September 2, 1970. Newspapers.com.

DC Lady. “Letter to the Editor – Ladies Are Few.” The Fresno Bee, September 8, 1970. Newspapers.com.

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Phyllis Schlafly. “‘Equal rights’ for women: wrong then, wrong now.” Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2007.

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George F. Will. “Opinion | The Equal Rights Amendment Is Dead. It Should Stay That Way.” The Washington Post, June 13, 2018.

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“The “Equal Rights” Amendment is a War on Women.” Concerned Women for America of South Dakota, Spring 2019.

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“10 Reasons to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment.” EagleForum.org.

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Natalie Regoli. “21 Strongest Pros and Cons of the Equal Rights Amendment.” ConnectUSfund.org, April 4, 2019.

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Sydney Hamilton. “Arguments For and Against the Equal Rights Amendment.” Policy Perspectives, The George Washington University, November 21, 2019.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

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Equal Rights Amendment Primary Source Set. Digital Public Library of America.

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Documents from the Women's Liberation Movement Primary Source Kit. TeachingHistory.org

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Season 1. Makers: The Women Who Make America. Public Broadcasting Service. March 2018.

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The Equal Rights Amendment: An Ongoing Cause Lesson Plan. National Women's History Museum.

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The Equal Rights Amendment: A Constitutional Question Lesson Plan. Click! The Ongoing Feminist Revolution, Clio Visualizing History.

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The Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and Today Teacher's Guide. School Violence Prevention Demonstration Program. Center for Civic Education. 

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Sally Ann Drucker. "Betty Friedan: The Three Waves of Feminism." Ohio Humanities, April 27, 2018.

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Second Wave Feminism Lesson. Khan Academy. 

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