In the 2021-2022 school year, 138 school districts implemented book bans across 32 states, affecting nearly 4 million students. Of these titles, 41% contain LGBTQ+ themes and/or protagonists. This assault on literature breaks our hearts: We both have fond memories from the Scholastic book fairs of our youth, and we can only imagine how impactful it would’ve been to enter a space dedicated to queer authors when we were growing up. Then, we realized we could make that happen.
Pictured above: The Rainbow Book Bus and fans with signs featuring LGBTQ+ books
This Banned Books Month marks one year since we first announced the Rainbow Book Bus, a traveling LGBTQ+ book fair to protect and promote queer literature. With the help of nearly 4,000 donors, we purchased, designed, and transformed a 22-foot school bus into a solar-powered queer bookmobile. Partnering with the wayOUT Foundation, we plan to travel directly to Americans in underserved areas who are bearing the brunt of a record-breaking influx of book bans and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. The Rainbow Book Bus made its debut at the Los Angeles Pride Parade on June 11, 2023 with over 100 people marching alongside it. Since then, we’ve been running local book fairs throughout the LA area to continue raising funds for the tour — but we’re just getting started. Our next step is to travel from California to Florida, donating 10,000 queer books to LGBTQ+ centers along the route.
In this time of rising censorship, we believe that the right to knowledge and education belongs to all Americans and that the essential power of storytelling cannot be suppressed. Our stories connect us, but the survival of these narratives has never felt more fragile. While the obstacles are daunting, we turn to the queer icons that line the windows of our bus — leaders like Marsha P. Johnson and Harvey Milk who stood up for what’s right even when it wasn’t popular — to remind us of the strength of our community. We believe that when you’re queer, you’re family, and it’s our hope that readers of all ages will feel that sense of belonging when they step aboard the Rainbow Book Bus.
Eric Cervini and Adam Powell
co-founders of ShopQueer.co and the Rainbow Book Bus
Pictured above from left to right: Adam Powell and Eric Cervini
Here’s what you need to know this week…
The LGBTQ+ talent force is changing. Help us spread the word.
Last week, we launched Out to Succeed 2.0, the largest-ever global survey conducted of the LGBTQ+ workforce in partnership with Out for Undergrad.
Among many headlines, the research showed that a whopping 80% of LGBTQ+ employees are comfortable being out in a professional setting, up from 36% in 2016.
To remain competitive in the job market, business leaders from across industries should be aware of the needs, expectations, and changing dynamics of the LGBTQ+ labor market, which will compromise greater and greater proportions of the workforce as Gen Z ages.
You can share the findings from Out to Succeed 2.0 from Out Leadership’s LinkedIn and Instagram pages. Or access our media kit to see sample copy and images to post on your own account.
The OutNEXT Global Summit wrapped up last week.
Over 200 emerging LGBTQ+ leaders joined us at the Citi Global Headquarters in downtown Manhattan for the 10th Annual OutNEXT Global Summit.
Our cohort of talented young professionals heard from a star-studded slate of inspiring speakers innovated new ways of inclusion in a social impact challenge and forged new personal and professional connections to power their careers going forward.
Video coverage of OutNEXT will be available soon on Out Leadership’s Vimeo.
Here are some of the fabulous speakers you may have missed:
Pictured above: Nina Kennedy, concert pianist
Nina Kennedy is a world-renowned concert pianist, orchestral conductor, and award-winning filmmaker. A child prodigy, she obtained her master’s degree from Juilliard where she studied under Leonard Bernstein.
She was a 2021 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for her first memoir, Practicing for Love: A Memoir.
Watch her rendition of “Widmung” by Robert Schumann (arr. Franz Liszt) below:
Pictured above from left to right: Mark Fowler, CEO, Tanenbaum, Dallas Ducar, CEO, Transhealth, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Deputy Director of Public Engagement, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Julian Cyr, Massachusetts State Senator
Julian Cyr is a Massachusetts State Senator representing Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, since his election in 2016.
A staunch defender of LGBTQ+ rights, he ensured protections for gender-affirming care were added to a reproductive rights package passed in the wake of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision. He spearheaded efforts to deploy mpox vaccines in a matter of days following the outbreak of the disease in the United States. Currently, he is cosponsoring legislation to guarantee equality in parental rights regardless of gender, marital status, or the circumstance of birth.
Cyr has also been a critical bulwark against book bans, introducing legislation to establish standards for the removal of books.
“Massachusetts is home to the nation’s first public library and first public school because we have long appreciated that unabridged access to knowledge is key to opportunity and fulfillment. At this sad moment when hate and fear are driving too many cruel policies across the nation, and yes closer to home, Massachusetts must continue to champion values of equity and belonging. Indeed, books are among our most compelling windows into the myriad of human experiences and capture the breadth of knowledge. We cannot allow small-minded bans or politically opportunist censorship to interfere with the right to read,” he told the Fall River Reporter.
Pictured above: Stacey Stevenson, CEO, Family Equality
Stacey Stevenson is the CEO of Family Equality, becoming the first Black person to hold the position in 2021. As a leading voice in the LGBTQ+ movement, she has consistently defended the safety and well-being of children across the United States against malicious policies that seek to harm and marginalize the LGBTQ+ community.
Like many queer families living across the United States, Stevenson and her wife made the difficult decision to leave their lives in Texas behind to live in a community that was not actively passing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the Washington metro area.
“As CEO of Family Equality, I’m proud to be part of the important work ahead to protect marginalized communities and resurrect our democracy. Finding ways for people to have safety in place continues to drive me to do this critical work for LGBTQ+ families across the country,” she wrote in the Advocate.
In 2022, they were honored by Out Magazine on their Out100 list.
“There Are Things To Do”: Urvashi Vaid on the big screen.
Pictured above: The late Urvashi Vaid at Out Leadership’s U.S. Summit OutWOMEN+ Breakfast in 2018
Screening at NewFest and festivals around the country: a film about one of the most important LGBTQ+ activists of our lifetime. Mike Syers, the film’s director is a retired Partner & co-founder of Out Leadership member firm EY’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group and one of the original leadership committee members. He has been working with Out Leadership for over a decade
Urvashi Vaid, an outspoken immigrant, lesbian, and woman of color was an LGBTQ+ superhero & helped shape the modern-day gay rights movement. Her life in Provincetown with partner Kate Clinton, decades of work & vision serve as a roadmap for generations facing anti-LGBTQ+ backlash. Join NewFest and the American LGBTQ+ Museum as they commemorate the pioneering organizer Urvashi Vaid alongside an hour-long documentary about the 30th anniversary of the 1993 March on Washington for LGBTQ+ rights.
THERE ARE THINGS TO DO a film by Mike Syers & produced by Fermin Rojas, 18 min
Watch the trailer:
NEW YORK PREMIERE
NewFest The New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival
Saturday Oct 14 @ 3pm The LGBT Center
Virtually Oct 12-24
AROUND THE WORLD
Screening in person & virtually at 20 festivals over the next 2-months and hopefully more into 2024. Not playing in a city near you yet? Checkout if a festival has online screenings & the website will be updated as more cities are added.
Make sure your team never misses an update.