Newly Elected Fortune 500 CEO is a Milestone in LGBTQ+ History

This past week, Land O’Lakes elected Beth Ford as the company’s first female CEO marking the first time an openly gay woman has been CEO of a Fortune 500 company (fortune.com). This past year, Fortune 500 companies saw a 25% drop in female CEO’s with the exit of Marissa Mayer from Yahoo and Irene Rosenfeld from Mondelez. However, for Beth Ford to be elected amid this decrease is a monumental moment in LGBTQ+ history.

In response to this news, Beth Ford said:

“I am extraordinarily grateful to work at a company that values family, including my own. The board chose the person they felt best met the criteria to drive success in the business. I realize this is an important milestone for many people and I am pleased to share it. I made a decision long ago to live an authentic life and if my being named CEO helps others do the same, that’s a wonderful moment.” - money.cnn.com

Her statement shows us that her intent is clear, she wanted to be an out lesbian woman in order to inspire others to be their best selves.

CNN reports that while there have been female LGBTQ+ CEO’s at other companies, this marks the first Fortune 500 business to do so. Deena Fidas from the Human Rights Campaign highlights that in hiring Ford, it can help LGBTQ+ workers become more visible within the workplace in a time where nearly half of LGBTQ+ Americans are not out at work. He said:

“This is not a story of someone getting into the higher echelons of leadership and then coming out, this is someone walking into this role with her full self.” - money.cnn.com

It is important to make the distinction that Beth Ford walked into the job as a lesbian woman, she was hired for who she was- breaking all barriers. At a time like this, when history is being made, it is inspiring to see that there is a change in the current and the waters are heading somewhere more inclusive and open to all.

h/t: money.cnn.com, fortune.com

A New Children's Book Shares The Story OF Harvey Milk And The Rainbow Flag

A new children’s book has recently released and it shares LGBTQ history.

"Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag" was written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno. The book hopes to explain to children how Milk was an advocate for gay rights and the first openly gay man to be elected to political office in the United States.

That said, the story also folds in the creation and influence of the rainbow flag. This is due to it being the 40th anniversary of the Rainbow Flag's creation in 1978.

"Young readers will be provided with an inspirational universal example of how the energy and focus of people acting together can actually make positive changes in society in the face of unjust laws and attitudes," said artist Salerno to First Coast News.

Salerno also expressed how difficult it was to create the illustrations for the book. He says it took two months to create the initial sketches for each page. From there, it took another four to five months to finish the illustrations.

Salerno created the pages by drawing a variety of options for even the littlest of details. Then, he would upload the pages to Adobe Photoshop to add color, position the drawings, and create the final copies.

All of this was to create a children’s book that will properly express the struggle and joys that the LGBTQ rights movement went through to get to today's America.

“Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag” is out now, and can be purchased on Amazon.

New Buzzfeed Video Looks Into The "Love Letters" Between Alexander Hamilton And John Laurens

Was one of our founding fathers sending love letters to his best friend?

Yesterday, we talked to you about New England teachers who started a program to teach K-12 students about LGBTQ history, and a man who’s podcast is interviews with notable LGBTQ people such as Sylvia Rivera (who was at Stonewall), Marsha P. Johnson, and more.

It seems this research into LGBTQ history is a growing trend as major media platform BuzzFeed is also doing some digging (though, in a less academic way).

Researching biographies (including the one that inspired the hit Broadway musical) and historical letters, Buzzfeed’s Niki and Jen talked about the possibility of founding father Alexander Hamilton being gay.

Specifically, the duo talked about whether or not Hamilton was in love with, or at the very least had an adolescent crush on, his friend John Laurens.

While historians and academics argue over the degree of which Hamilton was interested in his good friend, Buzzfeed made a quirky video to fill us laymen in on the whole situation.

You can check out the video down below.

New England Teachers Are Teaming Up With A Podcast To Tell LGBTQ History

With LGBTQ people becoming more visible by the day in the Western world, and in the United States of America specifically, its time that we look back at all of the things that they accomplished while hiding in plain sight.

That’s a mentality that Deb Fowler and Miriam Morgenstern both agree with. The two co-founded History UnErased (or HUE) in order to address that problem.

LGBTQ children in schools are growing up learning about history as if it was all accomplished by straight people, but their program wants to teach kids that LGBTQ people contributed a lot to the United States as well.

The program is currently only being used by public and private schools in the states of Massachusetts and New York, but they hope to grow the program in the coming years.

"People who we label and understand today as LGBTQ have always existed; therefore, LGBTQ history has always been woven into our shared historical narrative, but until now has been invisible," said Fowler to the Windy City Times.

She continued:

"For LGBTQ youth, learning a more accurate and inclusive history demonstrates that they are not alone, and that others like themselves have championed for LGBTQ equal rights. For non-LGBTQ identifying students, learning the stories and history of LGBTQ people develops an appreciation of human diversity, which in turn creates safer schools and communities.”

That said, the founders of HUE want to make sure that people know their goal isn’t to out people. Rather, they want to educate students about LGBTQ history and build their self-value (queer or otherwise).

In order to spread their mission and platform, Fowler and Morgenstern have a multi-step program. First, they start with the teachers themselves and offer workshops in order to train educators on how to bring LGBTQ history into the classroom.

"Policy change in education is important and will continue to evolve, but real change happens when teachers are empowered to make changes in their classroom practice,” said Fowler.

But, History UnErased isn’t alone in this mission of rediscovering and sharing LGBTQ history. They’ve made a friend in Eric Marcus.

Eric Marcus is the creator of the Making Gay History podcast. Marcus created the podcast in 2015, but he’s been pursing LGBTQ history since his college days at Vassar in 1976. He’s even published a book, similarly titled to his podcast, and is ongoing research with 300 hours’ worth of audio interviews from the New York Public Library.

"So much of LGBTQ history has been hidden that unless you looked very hard you'd never know how integral our stories are to the American story," said Marcus. "For young people today, there are lessons to be learned in how the early LGBTQ civil rights advocates achieved what they did.”

Now, HUE and Making Gay History are collaborating with the common goal of sharing the history that society forgot or never knew.

For more information, you can check out History UnErased at Unerased.org. You can also check out the Making Gay History Podcast by visiting MakingGayHistory.com or getting it on ITunes or Spotify.

h/t: Windy City Times

Illinois's State Senate Passed A Bill Asking For LGBTQ History To Be A Requirement In Public Schools

Illinois’s state Senate has approved a bill that asks for LGBTQ history to be a requirement in public schools.

Senate Bill 3249 is the bill that was passed on the floor earlier today. The bill was approved by a vote of 34 to 18.

The bill was first introduced by Chicago Democrat Heather Steans who says the bill would enlighten and better Illinois students.

“By teaching students an inclusive curriculum, Illinois classrooms will promote acceptance and a more accurate portrayal of history,” she said. “LGBT students also will learn about people who had some similar qualities to them and became historical role models.”

If the bill were to be signed into law, it would require schools in the state to take some time in the year to teach LGBTQ history. Specifically, students would learn about contributions LGBTQ people made to society.

Steans says that the bill would work with already established laws that require students learn about specific races and ethnicities like African-American history, Asian-American history, Hungarian history, and French history.

That said, this is only the first step in the bill’s journey towards hopefully becoming a law. The bill would need to be passed by the state House and then be signed by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

Of course, there’s plenty of opposition to the bill. For instance, some education advocates are lobbying against it for multiple reasons. Some see it as an offense to religious freedom and some see it as an offense to the jurisdictions of school boards.

“We have a clear directive from our membership to oppose all curricular mandates that come before the General Assembly,” said Zach Messersmith, director of government relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards, to the State Journal-Register. “We believe that locally elected school boards should be able to determine curricula for their students as long as it meets Illinois Learning Standards.”

Again, we’ll see if the bill will be able to hurdle over all of the obstacles before it. If it does, Illinois will only be the second state to require LGBTQ history for public school students. The only other state to do so is California.

h/t: the Associated Press, The State Journal-Register