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#OrlandoSyllabus: Educators Respond to the Shootings in Orlando

cover, Queer Brown Voices anthologyOn June 12, Omar Mateen entered Pulse, an LGBTQ bar in Orlando, Florida, with at least an automatic rifle and a handgun. At least 49 people are dead as a result of the shootings, with 53 injured. Mateen was killed in a shootout with the police. While details continue to unfold and discussions rage about gun control and Mateen as a possible Muslim terrorist, an unquestionable fact is that the shootings took place in a gay bar. Gay bars have historically been crucial sites for gay community and gay organizing, serving as safe spaces for LGBTQ Americans for decades. The historic Stonewall Riots, which took place in June 1969 when gay patrons resisted a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, were a pivotal moment in the gay civil rights movement.

For the past several years, educators, librarians, and archivists have worked collaboratively to develop “syllabi,” lists of books, articles, and other media sources designed to educate about the context, history, and broader significance of challenging events, particularly those that have deeply affected African-American and other groups whose history has been underrepresented or marginalized. Growing, and circulating, on Twitter and other social media sites under hashtags, these syllabi are documents in progress, community projects in a sense, available for teaching and for learning at all levels.

Examples of these syllabi include:

  • #FergusonSyllabus, a Twitter hashtag project conceived by Georgetown University history professor Marcia Chatelain in response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the police shooting of Michael Brown. A group of sociologists have also compiled a #FergusonSyllabus available here.
  • #BaltimoreSyllabus: a Twitter hashtag begun in response to the death of Eric Garner and the protests that followed; see also the #BaltimoreSyllabus compiled here.
  • #CharlestonSyllabus: a Twitter hashtag conceived by Brandeis University African-American history professor Chad Williams. Williams and a number of other African-American historians have now coedited a book based on this syllabus, published as a by the University of Georgia Press, available through Amazon and other booksellers; currently on order for the GSU Library).
  • #LemonadeSyllabus, a downloadable product created by Candice Marie Benbow, a doctoral student in Religion and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.

These syllabi use social media to collect and disseminate expertise and information about difficult topics, while also highlighting the communities involved: both the communities experiencing these events directly, and the broader communities of people in need of this information. At the same time, they represent communities of educators intent on teaching these conflicts; in this sense, they hark back to the anti-war “teach-ins” of the radical 1960s. As Chad Williams describes the #CharlestonSyllabus, it is “more than a list. It is a community of people committed to critical thinking, truth telling and social transformation.”

Today, in the wake of the Pulse shootings, an #OrlandoSyllabus is being created. You can see it forming here.

You can use these syllabi as starting points for information. At this moment, as the Pulse story unfolds, the GSU Library has many of the resources listed in the #OrlandoSyllabus available to you. Try our Discover search box (the box on the library’s home page) to find books, articles, videos listed in these syllabi. Resources from the #OrlandoSyllabus available at the GSU Library include (but are not limited to):

Scholarly Books


film logo, Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria

We also offer an LGBTQIQA Studies guide, which includes information about our general LGBTQIQA materials holdings, including information about the many local LGBTQIQA collections held in our Special Collections & Archives. Highlights include:

  • LGBT Life, a database which includes scholarly article and other publications relating to LGBT life and recent history (GSU affiliates only)
  • GenderWatch, a database which includes mainstream and alternative-news publications relating to gender (GSU affiliates only)
  • Franklin Abbott Papers (Special Collections): papers of a poet, psychotherapist, activist, and original member of the Radical Faeries, Abbott’s papers include extensive personal correspondence, conference proceedings, printed and audio-visual items, and materials related to his published works. In process. (click “Open Finding Aid” for full list)
  • LGBTQ Digital Collection
  • Gender and Sexuality Periodicals (Special Collections) (click “Open Finding Aid” for full list)