• Quinceañeras at the Capitol

    Lesson Plan

Updated: June 11, 2019

Why would fifteen teenage Latina girls hold a symbolic quinceañera right of passage celebration on the steps of the Texas capitol?

On July 2017, media from around the world flashed images of fifteen Latina young women wearing Quinceañera dresses speaking out to affirm their identities and to protest what they experienced and perceived to be a grave injustice—SB4, a Texas immigration law.

Update: Jolt Action, the group that helped to organize this protest, has a new project called Poder Quince. Poder Quince is a movement that channels the spirit of Quinceañeras to build a culture of voting and civic participation in Texas and the country. You can learn more about this work on the official website.

According to the Texas Chronicle:

“As passed, SB 4 allows local law enforcement officers to question the immigration status of people they detain or arrest and punishes local government department heads and elected officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration “detainers” — requests by agents to turn over immigrants subject to possible deportation — in the form of jail time and penalties that exceed $25,000.”

This lesson explores these young women’s motivations, personal stories, and their strategies in this civic action:

Teaching Objectives and Learning Outcomes

  • A goal of this lesson is to foster civic knowledge, skills, and attitudes, including deepening civic knowledge through reflection on a particular story of youth-led civic action.
  • Through reflection on the quinceañeras at the Capitol story, students will hone their civic skills and nurture civic attitudes by identifying the choices, both strategic and tactical, made by the young women who organized the protect.
  • Students will consider the relationship between individual and group identity and the civic choices that people make.
  • This lesson will also introduce a research-based framework developed by Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen called 10 Questions for Changemakers.

Resources for the Lesson

Quinceañeras at the Capitol ppt
Images of the Quinceañera Protest
Quotations from and about the Protesters

Essential and Guiding Questions

  • What tools are available to young people who feel marginalized to help them influence the thoughts and actions of others?
  • What does effective civic action look like? What makes some civic action successful, while other civic actions have less impact?
  • When you are too young to vote, how can you make your voice heard?

Click to access the full lesson plan: Quinceanera Protests


  1. From Quinceañera to Protest: Tejana Teens Fight SB 4 Immigration Law, Latino USA, http://latinousa.org/2017/07/17/quinceanera-protest-tejana-teens-fight-sb-4-immigration-law/
  2. Meet 5 of the Tejana Teens Who Made This Quinceañera-Themed Protest a Success, Remezcla, http://remezcla.com/features/culture/meet-the-Quinceañera-at-the-capitol/
  3. Quinceañera Held at Texas Capitol Building, Teen Vogue, https://www.teenvogue.com/story/quinceanera-held-at-texas-capitol-building
  4. In Sparkly Ruffled Dresses, Quinceañeras Are About To Flood The Capitol To Protest A Texas Bill That Affects Thousands Of Latinos, Mitú, https://wearemitu.com/things-that-matter/Quinceañera-will-waltz-to-texas-capitol-to-protest-sb-4s-anti-immigration-law/
  5. Teen girls wear quinceañera dresses at the Capitol to protest sanctuary cities ban, Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2017/07/19/teen-girls-host-quinceanera-capitol-protest-sanctuary-cities-ban
  6. Poder Quince: https://www.poderquince.com/

The educational focus of this lesson is on the voice and civic actions of the young women who choose to speak out against a law they perceived as unjust. Our goal here is to consider the relationship between civic action and identity and not to debate the law. Indeed, at the time of publication, only parts of the law have been implemented while legal arguments over the law play out in the courts.

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