Beyond Suffrage: Equal or Special? Tracing the Equal Rights Amendment, a Utah Perspective


Social Studies                                                                                                                                    PRINT FULL LESSON PLAN 

Grade Level: All


Why have women sometimes claimed equality and sometimes argued for gender distinction in politics? Students will analyze primary sources from the 1920s and 1970s to examine arguments women made for and against the Equal Rights Amendment.

Common Core State Standards

Grade 4: 
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. 

Grades 6-8: 
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources. 

Grades 11-12: 
Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.  

Key Terms/Vocabulary: 

Amendment , Equal Rights, Ratify, Endorse, Oppose, Protective Labor, Legislation

Key Figures

Shirley Chisholm, Phyllis Schalfly, Sonia Johnson, Beverly Dalley, Gay Littleton 

Key Organizations

Women’s City Club, National Woman’s Party National Organization for Women, Humanitarians Opposed To Degrading Our Girls (HOTDOG), ERA Coalition, Mormons for ERA, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Timeline of Events

  • 1908: In Muller v. Oregon, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of gender-based labor laws, which in this case allowed Oregon to limit women’s working hours. 
  • 1923: Former suffragists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman write the Equal Rights Amendment, which is introduced in Congress. Some labor activists, like Rose Schneiderman, Francis Perkins, and Florence Kelly, oppose the law and feel it will endanger labor laws that protect women and children. 
  • 1954: The League of Women Voters, formerly opposed to the ERA, endorses it. 
  • 1969: Shirley Chisholm, newly elected to the House of Representatives from Brooklyn, gives a speech supporting the ERA. 
  • 1972: A version of the ERA was passed by the Senate and sent to states for ratification 
  • 1972-1973: Twenty-two states ratified the ERA 
  • 1973-1977: Thirteen additional states ratified the ERA and five states had voted to rescind it 
  • 1972-1977: The ERA is reintroduced to Congress in 1972. It is ratified in 35 states, including New York. 
  • 1973-1982: conservative opposition to the ERA, led by Phyllis Schlafly, grows In 1982 the extended deadline to pass the ERA expires and the amendment falls 3 states short of passage. 
  • February 1975: Utah State Legislature defeated the amendment 
  • June 24-25 1977: The Voice of Womankind Utah’s First State-Wide Women’s Meeting (the convention was the largest in the nation with more than twice the attendance of any other state meeting) 
  • 1981: The National Organizations for Women sent teams of missionaries to Utah to knock on doors of Mormons asking them to support the ERA 1982: ERA fails to get the required amount of states 
  • 1990: the Utah Task Force on Gender and Justice issued a comprehensive statutory review and report of on gender bias in the Utah court system 
  • 2011: Renewed attempt to pass ERA. 
  • 2017: Nevada ratified the amendment, making it more likely for it to become a law 
  • January 25-30, 2019: Senate Joint Resolution 6 (S.J. Res 6) was introduced (“Three-State Strategy” Legislation) 
  • March 27th, 2019: Senate Joint Resolution 15 (S.J. Res 15) (Traditional Legislation) 
  • April 30th, 2019: the potential legislation to remove the deadline (the first hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment on Capitol Hill since 1983)