Harvey Milk Day

What is Harvey Milk Day?

Harvey Milk Day is a day to educate Californians about an extraordinary leader whose courageous work to end discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the 1970s set the stage for many of the civil rights advances we see today.

Who was Harvey Milk?

Harvey Milk was an activist, organizer, and the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s. Harvey Milk came out and started organizing against discrimination of gay and lesbian business owners in the Castro District of San Francisco, and against the Briggs Initiative (this was an initiative on the California state ballot in 1978 that would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California schools). Milk was responsible for passing gay rights ordinances for the city of San Francisco and served eleven months in office before he was assassinated on November 27, 1978 along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. We celebrate Harvey Milk Day on his birthday, May 22.

New Resources for Your Teachers

The California Safe Schools CoalitionGSA Network, and Our Family Coalition have come together to create a website for educators to access curriculum about Harvey Milk.

The website features new Harvey Milk Day curriculum suitable for teaching high school students, in addition to existing curriculum already in use in elementary schools. This includes a short educational biography of Harvey Milk, curricula organized by grade level, resources and links for Harvey Milk books and movies, and the ability for teachers to submit curricula they have developed for their own classes and others.

For more information, please visit: www.safeschoolscoalition.org/harveymilkday/

How do I organize a Harvey Milk Day event?
  1. Get together with at least two friends, local LGBT Movement leaders, fellow church members, etc. Harvey engaged people from different communities. Think broadly about who might help you plan an event.
  2. Brainstorm an event. You can use the list in the planning guide to help you determine which kind of event is right for you. It can be as small as a house party screening of “The Life and Times of Harvey Milk,” or volunteering at a local homeless shelter. It can be as big as a march in your state capitol. Among one another, learn about Harvey so that your event is a part of his legacy.
  3. Register your event online.
  4. Implement your idea:
    1. Write a timeline leading up to May 22nd with deadlines for different components of your event.
    2. Delegate the assignments among your planning group.
    3. Meet regularly with your planning group to ensure you have the best communication possible, and so that others may join you as you continue to plan.
  5. Document the event. Take pictures and video. Even if your event is very small, documenting every aspect of our Equality Movement is important. Post them online and contact us so we can help share it with others!
  6. Debrief your planning group and evaluate the program. What was the overall feel of the event? Strengths? Weaknesses? Was this event true to Harvey’s legacy? Should we do this again next year? Should we do something different?
Additional Resources


Courtesy of the Harvey Milk Foundation