Puncturing the Silence: Teaching The Laramie Project in the Secondary English Classroom

  • Toby Emert
Part of the Queer Studies and Education book series (QSTED)


Emert describes a collaborative research project in which he partnered with four grade 9–12 English teachers who were introducing an explicitly queer text in their classrooms for the first time. The teachers developed instructional units on The Laramie Project, a documentary-style play about the brutal 1998 attack on gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. The play is often produced in high school theaters but is rarely studied in English classes. The compelling narrative engaged and moved the students and invited them to converse about the sociocultural constructions of identity, society’s expectations regarding gender, and issues of justice and personal responsibility. The chapter details the teachers’ experiences, offers an exemplar assignment, and summarizes reflections written by the participating teachers and their students.


Laramie Project Secondary English Teachers Exemplary Assignment High School Theater Gender Creative 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Toby Emert
    • 1
  1. 1.Agnes Scott CollegeDecaturUSA

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