Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder Friend. Wonder Friend Wonders, “What Happened at the Stonewall Inn?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend!
Do you think it’s important to follow the rules? Most kids would say “Yes!” And for good reason—after all, many rules and laws exist to keep people safe. But sometimes, the answer isn’t so easy. Imagine a law that’s unfair or that hurts people. Would you still choose to follow it?
When people think a law is unfair, they might ask government officials to change it. They might bring a case all the way to the Supreme Court for a decision. Or they might join a protest. Have you read about the Civil Rights Movement or the Hong Kong protests? If so, you may already know the effects these events can have.
Today’s Wonder of the Day is about another protest movement that’s had a big impact on the world. It was led by LGBTQIA+ individuals who felt they were treated unfairly under the law. These protests, which are called the Stonewall Uprising, started on June 28, 1969.
In 1969, people identifying as LGBTQIA+ faced many forms of discrimination. In the U.S., they were unable to marry their romantic partners or adopt children. They were also banned from working for the federal government. These are just a few examples of how laws set LGBTQIA+ people apart from the rest of society.
In some places, including New York City, it was even illegal to serve LGBTQIA+ people alcohol. That’s why the Stonewall Inn, a known gathering place for the LGBTQIA+ community, was often visited by police. It was common for law enforcement to show up unannounced at the inn. Once there, they arrested the owners, employees, and many customers.
On June 28, 1969, that’s what happened—police officers arrived at the Stonewall Inn at about 1:00 a.m. They put several people in handcuffs. But then, something changed. Instead of leaving the area, the people who had been inside the Stonewall Inn gathered just outside. It wasn’t long before they were joined by residents of the surrounding community.
Together, the group of about 600 people led a protest against the actions of the police—and against the laws they enforced. Soon, the protest became a riot. People threw bricks, set fires in garbage cans, and destroyed property. The police officers took shelter and waited for back-up; eventually, 13 people were arrested.
One leader was Marsha P. Johnson, who was a Black transgender woman and an activist for LGBTQIA+ rights. She was joined by her friend, a transgender Latina woman named Sylvia Rivera. Together, Johnson and Rivera went on to open STAR House, a haven for unhoused LGBTQIA+ youth and others.
The Stonewall Uprising occurred in New York, but its impact rippled far and wide. On June 28, 1970, thousands of LGBTQIA+ individuals marched in New York City on the anniversary of the riots. Today, this is considered the first Pride Parade in the U.S.
Today, communities all over the U.S. celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride Month in June. Around the globe, many other countries observe Pride Month—some in June and others at different times of the year. Do you know anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+? If so, take some time to talk with them about what Pride Month means. They may be able to help you learn more!
Standards: C3.D2.His.2, C3.D2.Civ.12, C3.D2.Civ.14, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2,. CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1