WASHINGTON — From George Chauncey's "Gay New York" to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," work-related lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature and authors whose books focus on work are being highlighted for LGBT Pride Month as part of the U.S. Department of Labor's Books that Shaped Work in America.
The Web-based project, http://www.dol.gov/books, aims to engage the public about the Labor Department's mission and America's history as a nation of workers as portrayed through published works. It serves as an online resource library where people from all walks of life can share books that informed them about occupations and careers, molded their views about work and helped elevate the discourse about work, workers and workplaces.
"The Books that Shaped Work in America initiative bears witness to the nation's promise of opportunity for everyone," said Carl Fillichio, the department's senior advisor for communications and public affairs. "This promise cannot be understood and fully appreciated without exploring the LGBT community's struggle for equality and protections both in and out of the workplace."
From Leslie Feinberg's "Stone Butch Blues" to Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City," many of the new additions to the list show the relationship between work and the LGBT experience. As they advocated for greater protections from harassment and discrimination, members of the LGBT community were also demonstrating the societal and economic benefit of more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Many of the books reflect the struggle of being "different" in the workplace and the positive impact it has when employers accept and value all workers. Brian McNaught's "Gay Issues in the Workplace," for example, became the essential human resources guide to help employers understand the challenges faced by LGBT workers, and its recommendations are now part of the diversity policies of some of the nation's largest corporations.
Work, like our nation, is constantly evolving, and the Books that Shaped Work in America is no different. To get it started, 24 individuals, including current U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, eight former secretaries of labor from Democratic and Republican administrations, civil rights leaders, authors and media personalities, submitted suggestions. This month the department added recommendations from contributors Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, and Mara Keisling, Founding Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Interested in adding to the list? The simple, online form, which can be found at http://www.dol.gov/books/form, makes it easy for anyone to suggest a book.