Activity 4


Debating Tolerance in a New Democracy: A Role Play


In this activity, students stage a parliamentary committee hearing in the newly independent Eastern European country of Boldovistan. Role playing characters with differing attitudes towards homosexuality, students testify on legislation to abolish laws making consensual homosexual relations between adults a crime. In the process, they compare the differing points of view, attempt to reach a decision on whether government should regulate persons' private lives, and analyze the consequences of different decisions.


  • To compare different attitudes towards gays and lesbians
  • To develop and defend an opinion about legalizing consensual homosexual relations between adults
  • To analyze the consequences of making homosexual relations a crime

Age Level: High school to adult

Time: About 90 minutes

Materials: Handout 1: The Situation in Boldovistan Today

Handout 2: Parliamentary Hearing Role Cards

Subject Areas: Social studies


Ask students to read Handout 1: The Situation in Boldovistan Today describing the activity and setting the scene. As presented here, the situation in the fictional country of Boldovistan resembles present-day Romania.

Assign three students to each of the groups who will be offering testimony. Assign six students to sit on the parliamentary committee.

Once the groups are organized and the committee is chosen, hand out the role cards.

Allow approximately 15 minutes for the groups to prepare their testimony. Students role playing committee members should use the time to develop a list of questions to ask each of the parties testifying. They should also look at all the role cards to get a sense of who will testify and the concerns they will present.

Each group should draw lots to determine the order of testimony. After a group makes its presentation, it should then answer questions from the committee.

After hearing testimony, the committee should draw up its recommendations to the government, along with reasons for those recommendations. The committee can work in fishbowl” fashion, debating what recommendations to make in front of the rest of the class.

After the committee reports its recommendations, debrief the activity with the following questions:

  • With which group's testimony did you most agree? Why?
  • With which group's testimony did you least agree? Why?
  • What do you think will be the consequences of the committee's recommendations?
  • What other recommendations could the committee have made?
  • What might have been the consequences of those recommendations?
  • What decision do you think the committee should make? Why?
  • Did any of the arguments presented change your own opinion in any way?


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