Lesson Plan: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

The Origins of the Equal Rights Amendment

Kris Myers, program director at the Alice Paul Institute, discussed Alice Paul's creation of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. She also talked about early opposition to the amendment from women workers.


The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) stated, "Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex." This proposed amendment was passed by Congress in 1972 but failed to be ratified by three-fourth of the states. This lesson provides an overview of the proposed amendment, arguments for and against ratification and possible future steps toward ratification. Students will explore different arguments surrounding the ERA and determine if the ERA should be added in the Constitution. This lesson can be used in a traditional or flipped classroom.


  • WARM-UP:

    Begin class by asking the following warm-up question. After giving students a chance to respond to the questions, discuss the students' answers with the class.

    • How does the Constitution provide for equal rights?

    Have the class view each of the following videos that provide background information on the Equal Rights Amendment. Have the students answer the questions associated with each video clip to provide focus to the videos. After viewing the videos, discuss the answers with the students and address any misconceptions.

  • VIDEO CLIP 1: The Origins of the Equal Rights Amendment (4:14)

    • Who initially proposed the Equal Rights Amendment? When was this?
    • Describe the initial criticism to the Equal Rights Amendment from women in the labor force.

    • Explain the difference between protective legislation and blanket federal legislation for women.
  • VIDEO CLIP 2: Background of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s (3:24)

    • Summarize what the Equal Rights Amendment said.

    • What factors led to the growing support of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s?

    • How did changes in labor laws and laws addressing equality affect women's opinions of the ERA?

    Following the introductory videos, students will watch the video clips listed below and use the note-taking chart to summarize the arguments for and against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. After taking notes and watching the video clips, they should answer the following questions in two short paragraphs:

    HANDOUT: Equal Rights Amendment Note-Taking Chart (Google Doc)

    • Why was the ERA proposed?

    • Why did the ERA fail to get ratified?

    Have the students watch both of the video clips listed below about the future of the Equal Rights Amendment. Have them either discuss as a class or provide a written response to the following question:

    • How can the Equal Rights Amendment still be ratified?

    As a written response or as a class debate, have the students address the following prompt:

    • Should the Equal Rights Amendment be included in the Constitution?

    Write-a-Letter- Select a period of time discussed in videos. Choose a side of the ratification argument during that period and write a letter to a state legislator from the perspective of someone living at that time. In your letter, discuss who you are, how you feel about the ERA and your reasons for your opinion.

    Social Media Post- Create a simulated social media post that represents one of the arguments made during the debate over ratification. This can be in the form of a Tweet, Snap or meme.

    Ratification Research- Use the Equal Rights Amendment website to determine the different ways to include the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution. Determine the most likely path to ratification. Summarize how the ERA can be ratified and explain why this is the most likely way.


    • Should the wording of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment be changed to meet the current needs? Explain why or why not.
    • Why were equal rights based on sex not included in the original Constitution?
    • According to proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment, why was the 14th Amendment not sufficient to protect equality for women?
    • Can the Equal Rights Amendment still be legally adopted as the 28th amendment to the Constitution?

Additional Resources


  • 27th Amendment
  • Abridged
  • Activism
  • Alice Paul
  • Amend
  • Artifact
  • Betty Ford
  • Bipartisan
  • Civil Rights Act
  • Conscription
  • Constitution
  • Discrimination
  • Draft
  • Equal Rights Amendment
  • Feminist Movement
  • First Lady
  • Gender
  • Grassroots Movement
  • Homemaker
  • Labor Laws
  • League Of Women Voters
  • National Organization Of Women
  • Phyllis Schlafly
  • Protective Legislation
  • Ratify
  • Rosalyn Carter
  • Stop E R A
  • Strict Scrutiny
  • Suffragist
  • Vietnam War
  • Widow


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesConstitutional FoundationU.S. History


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