Lesson Plan

On-Screen Diversity: Why Visibility in Media Matters

Media Concept Smart TV


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GRADE LEVEL: Elementary School, Middle School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language

Does Entertainment Represent Our Increasingly Diverse Society?

In September 2019, Kodi Lee won America's Got Talent, which was a groundbreaking and emotional victory. Lee is a person who is Asian-American, blind and has autism. While he is one example of on-screen diversity, there is still more work to be done to ensure that the stories told reflect all people. The 2019 annual Hollywood Diversity Report found that among film leads, women and people of color made up only 32.9% and 19.8% respectively. Across the 100 top-grossing movies of 2018, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reports that only 1.6% of characters were depicted with a disability, a four-year low. Of the same 100 films, only two portrayed a gay protagonist.

About this Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn how different types of entertainment, like movies and television, reflect our diverse society. Students will explore the importance of representation and conduct their own research about various characters in films and TV programming.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will explore the extent to which the movies and television shows they watch portray a diversity of characters.
  • Students will consider the importance of representation and visibility in movies and television.
  • Students will conduct their own research study about the diversity of films and television.