The #USvsHate Process
Student-made messages publicly refusing hate can jump-start the deeper, ongoing learning we need to do to value all participants in our diverse schools and society. Our lessons and messages support dialogue about respect, invite deeper exploration of current biases and injustices, and lay the foundation for embracing inclusion and justice for all.
#USvsHate projects can be completed in as few as two class periods, or they can be expanded into longer lessons or units. We hope you’ll adapt this process to best suit your students, classroom and community.
How does #USvsHate work?
1. Consider local needs.
- DETERMINE YOUR COMMUNITY NEEDS. Survey students to better understand your school’s current climate, specifically whether all students feel valued and included; your students’ experiences with incidents of hate or bias in the school or community; and which public messaging may be most needed to encourage students and adults to value all communities and treat everyone as part of “us.” We want to refuse both “hate” as bigotry and slurs, and behaviors denigrating “types of people” throughout our society. So, before beginning your #USvsHate project, invite feedback from members of your school or classroom community. You might ask:
- Recently, have you heard students or adults make derogatory remarks or express biased opinions about particular groups of people? Give an example.
- To make your school feel welcoming and inclusive for all students, what additional supports do students need? Give an example.
- Are there deeper issues of bias, fairness or justice in your school or community that you wish your class would explore more? What are they?
- Are there positive experiences in specific communities that students wish were better known, so that diversity in your school/community could be fully appreciated? Describe.
- Right now, what do students see as events hurting groups in your school or community? How have you or other students been affected? And what ideas do students have for working together so everyone is supported and valued instead? Describe.
- DETERMINE YOUR OWN NEEDS. What skills and knowledge can you build before leading students through this project? Check out our PD resources!
- BUILD A COALITION. Consider how you can include colleagues, administrators, district staff, and families before you begin your project. You may want to share this site with collaborators before you begin, and discuss student answers to the questions above.
2. Choose lesson(s)!
Review the lessons. Our resources link to many more resources, so give yourself enough time to read, choose, and flag resources to explore later.
You do not have to use #USvsHate lessons to submit messages to our national challenge. You can build anti-hate messaging into your existing curriculum. Whatever lessons you choose, build on what you are already doing!
Start where it works: choose lessons that fit your school’s needs, your curriculum, your preparation, and your student relationships. You can ask your students to make #USvsHate messages after just one lesson, or after reviewing usvshate.org.
Of course, we’ve found that the best results come from a combination of lessons that take learning deeper. #USvsHate immediately prompts discussions about respecting people, refusing bigotry, and being kind. #USvsHate then supports ongoing exploration of how to counter deeper dynamics of bias and harm throughout our society. Ideally, #USvsHate supports ongoing curricular and social activities where students learn to explore, respect and value all communities’ experiences. Our Lesson lists and PD resources offer onramps to the journey! See Teacher Stories for others’ experiences with specific lessons.
Remember the ultimate goals of #USvsHate: we want students to more fully know and value themselves and the people they share their school, community, and nation with, and we want to encourage students to take action against hate, bias, and injustice.
#USvsHate lays the groundwork by insisting publicly that all people are equally valuable.
3. Teach the lesson(s).
Each lesson page offers suggestions for Before You Teach. Check out our PD resources.
4. Create anti-hate messages.
Invite students to create anti-hate messages in any media to complete any #USvsHate lesson, or to complete a series of lessons. Let them explore prior winners as they consider possible message forms!
Ask your students to imagine a school in a society where everyone is treated as equally valuable, diversity is explored and celebrated, bigotry is prevented, folks support each other, and everyone feels like they belong. What messages are on the walls or on the loudspeaker, or circulating on the school’s media or student phones?
Now invite students to make the messages they want to see!
You can also give students this guide and let them run with it.
Remind students that the goal is to create an original #USvsHate message that will do one or more of the following:
- communicate that people across lines of difference contribute to our communities, regions, and nation, are equally valuable, and deserve access to opportunity and well-being;
- explicitly address, explore, and refuse racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism, sexism, or other forms of hate, bias and injustice in schools and society, insisting instead on a society that works for everyone;
- celebrate our actual diversity and similarity, busting myths (challenging stereotypes) about any “type of” person too often misrepresented;
- ask people to treat each other kindly, fairly and respectfully, so schools stay safe for learning and society includes us all.
Emphasize that no message submitted should be harmful or hateful to others.
Here are a few things to remember as students make messages:
- Students can make #USvsHate messages as individuals or in groups.
- Students’ messages can be made in any media. See prior winners: That means hand-drawn or digital images, to become stickers and posters or be shared digitally; essays; poems; performances or public actions documented in photos or on video; public service announcements, videos, memes, speeches, and spoken word; op-eds; tshirt designs; art installations—the options are endless. An anti-hate message can be drawn by hand on paper, or created digitally using a phone or computer. A speech into a smartphone camera, a great letter to the editor, a photograph, a comic book, an infographic, a public event, or an animation can be an anti-hate message.
- Invite students to share and improve draft messages with peers.
- Possible discussion questions:
- How does each anti-hate message realize one of the four goals above?
- (**Hint: push beyond negative myth-busting messages like “I am not XX.” Those can plant the stereotype in viewers’ minds! How can public messages convey who we are, not only who we are not?)
- Will the message inspire viewers to improve their school or society?
- What could be added or changed to make this message more powerful, and to reach an intended audience?
- How could this message help our community, or keep the conversation going?
- Suggested norms:
- Do not disparage anyone’s message.
- Find something about others’ messages that you can affirm and compliment in some way.
- If you disagree with the message, address the message, while respecting the creator.
- **It’s OK to explore additional #US hashtags. By insisting on inclusion and justice for all, #USvsHate lays the foundation for all sorts of public statements about improving the world together. We’ve seen students make crucial public messages about economic inequality, education opportunity, even climate change. If your students feel their final messages need a different #US hashtag in addition to #USvsHate (e.g., #USvsRacism; #USvsSexism; #USvsPoverty; #USvsInjustice; #USforJustice; #USforEarth, etc.), go for it! On any messages that win our contests, we will combine your #US hashtag of choice with #USvsHate.
5. Share/submit messages
Share students’ anti-hate messaging locally. This is a crucial part of #USvsHate. Public messaging sets the tone locally for embracing inclusion and justice for all. Students and teachers are sharing messages locally on school walls, bulletin boards, websites, and T-shirts, via gallery walks, and in assemblies to highlight live speeches or presentations. Document local sharing, using the #USvsHate hashtag.
Then, submit “best” messages to #USvsHate for broader sharing in our national message challenges!
Here are a few things to remember as you prepare to submit:
- 5 entries max per class, per challenge! Consider inviting students to help you select entries.
- PLAN AHEAD: For students under 18, parent/guardian permission is required for any entry submitted with a student’s name on it. (You will vouch that you got this permission when you submit; you won’t have to upload a permission slip.) Here’s a permission slip educators can use to get that parent permission.
- See Kim’s story on #USvsHate Teacher Stories, for how one educator handled permissions by email.
- (Students under 18 who submit for themselves must prepare to get parent/guardian permission if they win.)
- Any message submitted must be ready to share publicly.
- When you submit, you and students can share the teaching, learning, and intentions behind messages.
Winning entries will be amplified nationally via our website and social media. A subset will be made into Zoom backgrounds and free posters and stickers for participating classrooms. Check out our latest winning messages!
6. Ask each other: “what’s next?“
Now, take the most important followup step of all: ask students and colleagues what they want to learn and do NEXT in your school community. Is there a next topic on the website that people want to explore? Could a favorite #USvsHate activity be taught every year? Who could join #USvsHate in a next round? Go for it!
- To figure out “what’s next,” you might ask students and adults these questions:
- What is one thing you learned from the #USvsHate activity, or are still thinking about?
- If you could change one thing about the #USvsHate activity, what would you change?
- Which issue from the #USvsHate site do you think students should learn about next? (e.g., stereotypes, bullying, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism.) Why?
- How could you go deeper now, having refused “hate”? Is there an issue of deeper bias or injustice in our society or your school that needs your attention? Do you have a specific vision for creating schools and a society where everyone is treated as equally valuable?
- What other actions do you want to take toward that vision? How could students help lead next steps?
- (Sign up with contributing organizations for ongoing resources.)
- Many #USvsHate teachers have reached out NEXT to colleagues in their school to invite them to teach next lessons together. Teachers have shared their work with administrators, entire faculties, parents, and even school boards. Some are now doing #USvsHate lessons schoolwide.
Our goal is to refuse hate together — and do the long-term work to treat all as equally valuable. Join us!
Sign up for the #USvsHate newsletter here!