Textbooks and learning materials look a lot different than they did even 10 years ago. You might remember borrowing an old textbook from your high school and looking at the inside cover to see the long list of scribbled names of students before you who used that very same book. The book even had a peculiar, stale smell to it.
Or perhaps you remember being in college, making a trip to the university bookstore to purchase or rent your course materials for the new semester. You went with excitement, eager to learn about what career possibilities lay ahead of you, and thought your materials might provide you with just the answers you were looking for.
As you read, you may have been disappointed to find that many examples seemed to be about a similar person–someone who didn’t quite look like you or self-identify the way you did. You may have started to become discouraged and think to yourself, “Maybe people like me can’t become an engineer, a psychologist, a business executive,” or whichever profession you dreamed of.
Representation matters. More importantly, positive representation matters. But what does that look like? At Macmillan Learning it not only means signing authors and producing course materials and tools in which students feel represented and reflected, it also means a mission of inclusivity that goes beyond course materials.
Macmillan Learning LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group Recognizes LGBT History Month
LGBT History Month was founded in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school history teacher who came out to his students after teaching about the Holocaust and informing his students that he would have been persecuted because of his sexual orientation. Wilson recognized a lack of positive representation of LGBT people in the teaching of history, and he envisioned a month in which role models could be provided for LGBTQIA+ youth.
The month of October was chosen because of other coinciding LGBTQIA+ affinity days during the month: National Coming Out Day on October 11 and the commemoration of the first and second marches on Washington for LGBTQ+ rights in 1979 and 1987.
One of the highlights of LGBT History Month is the spotlight of a different LGBTQIA+ historical figure each day of the month. This includes highlighting the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ people in sports, entertainment, science, politics, and many other professions. These individuals serve as role models for young LGBTQIA+ people who may not otherwise have known of a successful queer person in their industry or desired future career.
Macmillan Learning’s LGBTQIA+ employee resource group, Proud@ML, participated this year by sharing its second National Coming Out Day storytelling project externally so that students can learn about the different roles that LGBTQIA+ people hold at an educational publishing company. Proud@ML hopes that doing so will encourage LGBTQIA+ youth to pursue whichever career path they aspire to.
Macmillan Learning LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group Sponsors Book Donation
For Proud@ML, positive representation means creating engaging and inspiring educational opportunities for colleagues to learn more about LGBTQIA+ people, their history, and the rights they’re still fighting for. It also means giving back to communities outside of Macmillan Learning and paving the way for young people to lead a more inclusive future.
During this year’s Pride Month, Proud@ML invited all Macmillan Learning employees–including those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and those who are allies–to participate in the creation of Pride floats. Teams could submit entries in contest categories such as Best Incorporation of LGBTQIA+ History, Best Pride Photo, Best Group Float, Most Visually Creative, and Best Show of Pride. Submissions ranged from videos to photo collages and included participation from employees across the company including Susan Winslow, CEO of Macmillan Learning.
All category winners received recognition and a small prize. But Proud@ML wanted to do something more for the Best Show of Pride category winner, which showcased student support from a local middle school in Austin, Texas, where one of Macmillan Learning’s employees has a family relation. Texas is one of several states with increased anti-LGBTQIA+ and legislation, which greatly negatively impacts LGBTQIA+ youth.
Working with Project Open Books, a small nonprofit organization that is committed to improving and promoting access to age-appropriate LGBTQIA+ books and stories, Proud@ML sponsored a donation of 10 LGBTQIA+ inclusive books for this middle school to include in its library. Macmillan Learning employees delivered the books this October as a way to acknowledge and celebrate LGBT History Month and just in time for the new school year to get underway.
Two of the books donated were What Was Stonewall? by Nico Medina and Resist: 40 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice by Veronica Chambers. Both exemplify the meaning and purpose of a month dedicated to the history and teaching of important LGBTQIA+ figures and rights movements. The other books donated included fiction titles featuring LGBTQIA+ characters in main roles, which Proud@ML hopes will help LGBTQIA+ students feel represented in the stories they read. Macmillan Learning and Proud@ML know that representation matters, which is why positive representation of all types of people remains a pillar of what they do and the content they create.