General Motors has touted its contributions to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in its 2021 Social Impact Report.
According to the report, GM provided GLSEN with the funds in order to support the organizations Rainbow Library program, which delivers LGBT-themed books for grades K-12 in public schools and provides tools for educators at those schools to defend the books from school boards that seek to have them removed. General Motors described their contribution as follows:
GM provided a grant to GLSEN to support The Rainbow Library, which provides supportive curriculum materials and book sets that are LGBTQ+ centered, racially diverse and multicultural to K-12 schools. This innovative program also provides ongoing support and professional guidance for educators to create inclusive, supportive and identity-safe classrooms nationwide.
GLSEN’s website opens with a pop-up, presumably for closeted students, informing users that they can quickly close the website by hitting the escape key three times — a feature common in other teen-focused LGBT websites like the Trevor Project. It also cautions them to clear their browser history.
The organization was founded by Kevin Jennings in 1990 and achieved heightened awareness from a controversy in Massachusetts that became known as “Fistgate.”
GLSEN held a number of youth-focused workshops that year, one of which dealt with the topic of sex and sexuality. Only participants between the ages of 14-21 were allowed, and one attendee taped the meeting. During the question-and-answer segment of the workshop, a student asked about the mechanics of “fisting.” Instructors from the workshop offered a detailed explanation to the teenagers about the process and then gave equally detailed descriptions of how same-sex couples could engage in other sexual activities.
The tape of that incident was turned over to the Massachusetts Parents’ Rights Coalition (now known as MassResistance), a socially conservative organization.
The incident would not harm Jenning’s political standing, who, under the Obama Administration, went on to head the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
General Motors funded an additional 22 other non-profits that the company identified as working towards social justice and inclusion and provided those organizations with a total of $10 million in commitments.