Queer Flags

Author: Amanda Hurwitz
Subject: History
Topic:  Integrated
Grade Levels: Elementary School: 1st Grade


This lesson plan aims to explain the dense history behind queer flags as a symbol of representation and pride. The course explores the parallels between national flags and LGBTQ+ flags, highlighting the different purposes and symbolism of each. The flags covered in this lesson are not a comprehensive list, rather a broad overview of the most widely used flags today.

Time: 60 minutes (can be longer or shorter depending on the teacher’s use of the provided games)

Lesson Plan Resources:

Lesson Plan

Queer Flags Presentation

Lesson Objectives:

  • Learn the history behind national flags across the globe; specifically focusing on the United States Flag
  • Understand why queer flags exist; their purpose, symbolism, and meaning
  • Understand how intersectionality plays a role in the evolution of the Pride Flag
  • Learn the definitions of multiple sexual orientations and gender identities

Essential Questions:

  1. What is the purpose of a national flag? What is the purpose of the United States flag specifically? E.g. What does the flag represent and/or symbolize?
  2. What is the purpose of LGBTQ+ flags?
  3. How have LGBTQ+ flags evolved over time?


SL K-5.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups

L K-5.5: With guidance and support from adults, demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meaning

HSS 1.3: Students know and understand the symbols, icons, and traditions of the United States that provide continuity and a sense of community across time.

HISTORY FRAMEWORK: CH 4 P 42: “Symbols, Icons and Traditions of the United States”: First-grade students deepen their understanding of national identity and cultural literacy by learning about national and state symbols


A-sexual: Describes a person who is generally not sexually attracted to any person regardless of gender.

Lesbian: Describes a woman who can be generally sexually attracted to other women or solely attracted to women 

Intersex: a person who is born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that is not considered typical for a male or female

Bisexual: (historically) used to describe a person who can be sexually attracted to both men and women 

Demisexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they have a strong emotional connection with a future partner. The term “emotional bond” can vary from person to person.

Pansexual: someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to people of any gender

Genderqueer: gender identities that fall along the gender spectrum or outside the gender binary; a person may identify as both a man and a woman, as neither, or beyond genders; sometimes used as an umbrella term for gender non-conforming/variant identities

Non-binary: a term used by the community of people whose gender identity exists outside of the gender binary of male/female; for example, sometimes accompanied by the usage of the pronoun they/them pronouns, the honorific of Mx. instead of Mrs. or Mr.

Transgender: describes a person whose gender identity is different from what is generally considered typical for their sex assigned at birth. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual.

Nationalism: an ideology that emphasizes loyalty, devotion, or allegiance to a nation or nation-state that holds such obligations outweigh other individual or group interests

Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Teacher Background:

The teacher should have prior knowledge about LGBTQ+ identities and symbols, as well as the history behind the national flags, especially the American Flag.


  • Photocopier
  • Computer
  • Projector
  • Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
  • Bingo and Matching Games + Coloring Sheets (found here)
    • Please print them out, make copies, cut out the bingo chips, and supply coloring utensils (or use an alternative)


  • Introduction: (5 mins)
    • Distribute the “Pride Flags Coloring Activity” (at the end of the pride flags game document)— allow students to color in the flags as the lesson progresses
    • Read the lesson objectives to the students and ask if anyone has any questions before the lesson begins
    • Discuss the origins of flags and the shift from symbols to banners
  • National Flags (15 mins)
    • Discuss the “Age of Revolution” and its impact on the creation and popularization of flags
    • Explain the definition of nationalism and how flags are a mechanism of such ideals. Provide examples of how nationalism influences the modern world.
    • Discuss the timeline of the American Flag’s creation and implementation
    • Explain the image of the American Flag and its individual symbolizations
    • Hold a class discussion (optional- 10 minutes) about Woodrow Wilson’s quote. Dissect the quote as a class and allow students to ask for definitions and clarification questions prior to splitting into small groups. Once the class comes back into a large group, allow each group to share their thoughts and opinions. 
  • LGBTQ+ Flags (3 mins per flag; 30 mins)
    • Before beginning this section of the lesson, read the disclaimer and add any more clarifications you see fit
    • Discuss the Pride Flag
      1. Original Pride Flag → 5 stripes → Philadelphia Flag → The Progress Flag → Intersex-Inclusive Progress Flag
    • Discuss the Transgender Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Bisexual Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the A-sexual Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Pansexual Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Genderqueer Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Intersex Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Nonbinary Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Lesbian Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
    • Discuss the Demisexual Flag
      1. Ask students to describe the definition in their own words to the class
  • Games (time variable)
    • This section is up to the instructor and the time remaining in class. You can choose to play both, one, or none of the provided games.

Relevant Resources:

Cade Hildreth. “The Nonbinary Pride Flag: What It Is and Why It Was Created.” Cade Hildreth, 25 Mar. 2021, cadehildreth.com/nonbinary-pride-flag/.

CaseyBrowne4. “The *Brief* History of the Non-Binary Flag & What It Represents.” Dear Biary, 28 Sept. 2019, dearbiary.com/2018/08/21/the-brief-history-of-the-non-binary-flag-what-it-represents/.

Deane, Ben. “The Philly Pride Flag, Explained.” Https://Www.inquirer.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 18 June 2021, www.inquirer.com/philly-tips/philadelphia-pride-flag-20210612.html.

“Flag Day: Congress Adopts the Stars and Stripes.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 24 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/congress-adopts-the-stars-and-stripes.

“History of the American Flag.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 5 Mar. 2021, www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth/history/old-glory/.

Hoke, Casey. “Michael Page- Bisexual Pride Flag (1998).” Queer Art History, 28 Aug. 2017, www.queerarthistory.com/uncategorized/michael-page-bisexual-pride-flag-1998/.

“How Did the Rainbow Flag Become a Symbol of LGBTQ Pride?” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/story/how-did-the-rainbow-flag-become-a-symbol-of-lgbt-pride.

“Interview: Creator of the Genderqueer Flag.” Majestic Mess Designs, 16 July 2019, majesticmess.com/2019/07/14/interview-creator-of-the-genderqueer-flag/.

“Interview: Creator of the Pan Flag.” Majestic Mess Designs, 6 Nov. 2020, majesticmess.com/2018/12/01/interview-creator-of-the-pan-flag/.

“The Intersex Flag.” Morgan Carpenter, morgancarpenter.com/intersex-flag/.

“LGBTQIA+ Flags and Symbols.” Old Dominion University, www.odu.edu/life/diversity/resources/lgbtqa/symbols#:~:text=Demisexual%20Flag&text=The%20definition%20of%20%22emotional%20bond,sexuality%2C%20and%20purple%20represents%20community.

“LGBTQIA+ Flags and Symbols.” Old Dominion University, www.odu.edu/life/diversity/resources/lgbtqa/symbols#tab213=1&done1612907281342.

Murray, F. “The History of the Ace Flag.” Ace Week, Ace Week, 26 Oct. 2020, www.aceweek.org/stories/ace-flag-history.

Nadler, Ben. “Where Do Flags Come From?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 June 2016, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/06/happy-flag-day/486866/. 

“Pride Flags.” The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, www.unco.edu/gender-sexuality-resource-center/resources/pride-flags.aspx#:~:text=Philadelphia%20Pride%20Flag&text=History%3A%20The%20QPOC%20inclusive%20LGBTQA%2B,by%20gilbert%20baker%20in%201978.

“Pride Flags.” TriPride, 4 May 2021, www.tripridetn.org/pride-flags/.

Ralatalo. “Flags of the LGBTIQ Community.” OutRight Action International, 29 June 2020, outrightinternational.org/content/flags-lgbtiq-community.

TheAdvocateMag. “Pride Flag Gets Redesign to Include Intersex Folks.” ADVOCATE, Advocate.com, 8 June 2021, www.advocate.com/pride/2021/6/08/pride-flag-gets-redesign-include-intersex-folks.

Author Information

Amanda Hurwitz is an Education Intern at Our Family Coalition. She is a 2021 graduate of American University, with a major in International Relations and a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexualities Studies. 

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