Pearson’s 2021 annual report section on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion touts the company’s top score for LGBT workplace inclusion and further describes the company’s outreach efforts to recruit more LGBT specific employees. For “social impact”, Pearson committed to “continue its partnership with Career Accelerator, an LGBT+ Youth Mentoring Programme.”
In 2019, Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn, announced that the state would finalize a 5 year contract with Pearson to take over the annual student assessment program called TNReady. One news outlet projected the Pearson contract to cost $93 million dollars by the 2023-2024 school year.
Getting in on the growing industry of companies and foundations peddling gender influence to students, Pearson, the self-described “world’s leading learning company,” was a “champion” sponsor of Gender Spectrum’s 2020 training.
According to its mission statement, “Gender Spectrum works to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens”. They list a broad range of “clients” who presumably share Gender Spectrum’s objectives.
Gender Spectrum’s 2022 annual training for “professionals” who have contact with children and/or work to influence the systems which provide services to children, including schools, convened last week on July 14-15, featuring a wide range of speakers promoting the full spectrum of gender diversity including transgenderism, at any age. One speaker presented “Gender Justice in Early Childhood” while another session featured the creators of “Gender Inclusive Classrooms” one of whom is a second grade teacher, teaching about establishing “Rainbow Clubs” for K-5 students.
“Rainbow Clubs” are “an elementary school version of a GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance).” GSAs are “student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities. GSAs have evolved beyond their traditional role to serve as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth in middle schools and high schools, and have emerged as vehicles for deep social change related to racial, gender, and educational justice.”
The bottom line is that GSAs work to turn students into LGBTQA+ activists and to normalize everything on the growing alphabet of perceived gender.
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) is a centralized national organization serving a variety of functions including helping to establish and support state chapters starting GSAs in schools. Tennessee’s GLSEN chapter sponsored the “East Tennessee Diversity Prom” in Knoxville.
GLSEN has a wide ranging set of leadership positions. To no great surprise, the board is led by a representative of the National Educators Association and senior advisors include representatives from Disney and TikTok.
Counted among GLSEN’s leadership is Michael Rady, the Rainbow Library Program Manager who describes himself as “a queer educator, organizer, and reader” who just also happens to have migrated from the Northeast, to Nashville, Tennessee.
Lyndsey Godwin is GLSEN’s Manager of Network Capacity Building who also has made an imprint in Tennessee.
GLSEN is another organization offering professional development for educators including tools for librarians regardless of whether they are community or school-based. One of GLSEN’s recommendations is for the librarian to provide meeting space for a GSA or, “better yet, become a sponsor of the club!” This is the same recommendation being promoted in the National School Library Standards.
Pearson UK is forthright about its efforts to promote LGBT+ to students, parents and educators, as an “inclusion” issue and says they have devoted employee resources to “explor[ing] all identities represented by the ‘plus’ symbol.” The glossary will be helpful to anyone who has not yet discovered that the “+” includes labels such as “quadgender”, “two-spirited” and “gray-ace”.
It requires a little more probing to reveal Pearson US advocacy for LGBT+ education and materials but it is definitely part of US product line.
Pearson advertises its “tuition-free online public school” called Connections Academy as a “safe, inclusive” space offering a “path forward for all kinds of students”:
At Connections Academy, we provide a LGBTQ inclusive education, giving students the space to gather and get to know one another, which helps in so many ways. Students learn that they are not alone and that they can depend on one another. Because so many students come to Connections Academy after feeling like they didn’t belong in their brick-and-mortar schools, our teachers and students go the extra mile to make all kids feel accepted and valued.
The Gay Straight Alliance Network can offer support and guidance to anyone interested in starting a group at a brick-and-mortar school for LGBTQ students and their allies.
We can change the world if we provide LGBTQ inclusion in schools, and create a space where students feel welcomed and valued.
Pearson’s Tennessee Connections Academy is located in White House, Tennessee.
It goes without saying that no student or adult for that matter for any reason whatsoever, should be bullied. At the same time, institutional providers like Pearson, schools, educators, and therapists should begin respecting the diversity of opinions, beliefs and practices across the full spectrum of students and families.