For Zaylore Stout integrating history, advocacy and access to Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ stories has become a life long mission. Now, eight states require comprehensive LGBTQ curriculum, but many others are introducing LGBTQ curriculum bans (at least seven since last year, while Florida has made it the law of the land) as well as Black history and cultural education bans (at least 18 states enacted bans since last year out of the 49 states that introduced bans in total).
However, Stout has decided that these bans are no match for him. He has a long term plan.
The GLAAD Media Institute met Stout in Minnesota after two consecutive GMI media training sessions. There Stout learned how to navigate storytelling in the media.
This led to his writing an op-ed for the Advocate in 2020, which discusses the intersectionality of showing up at pride after the murder of George Floyd as a Black cis, gay man, while having to teach white, cis gay counterparts that pride is, and always was, a riot.
Well my first even Op-Ed was published by @TheAdvocateMag. If we are going to eradicate racism we might as well start in our own house. Thank you to @glaad for lifting my voice.https://t.co/A8W0TMq9Qr
— Zaylore Stout, Esq., SPHR. SHRM-SCP (@ZayloreStout) June 8, 2020
Today, Stout continues to integrate advocacy with the power of storytelling. He is planning and raising funds through Kickstarter for the production and release of his second history book: “Our Black History in 50 States” set to release in February 2024. The book follows the 2019 history series debut “Our Gay History in 50 States.”
“When I started writing ‘Our Gay History in 50 States’ in 2015, my plan was always to write a series of books,” Stout told GLAAD. He has plans to co-write womens’ history, Asian and Pacific Islanders’ history, Indigenous peoples’ histories integrated with stories of disability and immigration. Additionally, he hopes to fill classrooms and resources for students, teachers and advocates alike.
The “Our History in 50 States” series will exist as a pushback to the censorship corrupting history education throughout the country.
Along with Black and LGBTQ history bans, PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans tracked 2,532 decisions to ban books between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. Most bans attack Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ stories.
— GLAAD (@glaad) September 19, 2022
However, book bans have been a constant throughout our history, reminds Stout.
“There is nothing new about book banning,” Stout said. “You can always look back and see how we overcame challenges of the past,” he said.
This is the author’s favorite part of history: Overcoming.
Stout makes an effort to share the stories of people that aren’t just the first of their lifetime in his history books, but have made histories as the everyday people of their time
“We only, normally, hear about slavery, and a little bit about the Civil Rights Movement,” Stout said, “There’s so much more in regards to the lived experience of African Americans from when we were first brought here involuntarily, all the way up until today.”
He shares a story about a woman named Biddy Bridget Mason people will learn about in Stout’s new history book. Mason was born a slave and given away as a wedding present to a couple in Mississippi. The couple relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah by walking over 1,680 mi before relocating again to San Bernardino in California to chase the Gold Rush.
Little did they know, slavery was outlawed by the California Constitution. Mason fought and won her and her family’s freedom in court. She and her three daughters moved to Los Angeles where she became one of the first Black women to own land in LA. With that land she rented out space for horses and carriages to temporarily rest as they moved along their path. This space would become one of the very first parking lots in LA history!
“Those are the stories I love,” said the author. “Biddy was just living her life and was trying to do the best for her family, and then ended up making—unknowingly to her—history.”
Throughout Stout’s life he remained consistent in his dreams and goals. He had intentions of becoming a lawyer at a young age, with aspirations to become a Supreme Court Justice, and he fought for Black history and rights throughout grade school.
He was a kid growing up in Southern California in the 80’s before transferring to Orange County in Ventura for high school. It was 1991. The year Rodney King was beaten by police and lived.
“I started a Black Student Union,” said Stout. His knee jerk response during the autumn after King’s brutalization was to bring Black students, and white students who cared, together. This would be a place of healing and knowledge sharing for his entire high school. Though, like most change makers, Stout was met with harmful resistance. Skinheads, Stout says, at his school were volatile, they resisted the BSU by making false equivalencies of fairness between whiteness and Blackness, and started a “White Student Union”, which explored the history of neo-nazism. One white student even wrote him a letter riddled with the same tropes we continue to find commonly in attacks on Black education today.
Stout shared his handwritten response with GLAAD.
After that correspondence, Stout became a target. He was physically assaulted by an adult, self-identified skinhead. He was in the newspapers; he was also speaking to the NAACP, and his school board—unknowingly to himself—making history.
“I just wanted to learn about my own history,” Stout said in reflection. “I want people to learn about Black history!”
“Our Black History in 50 States” is the continuation of Stouts personal history and his tireless advocacy.
The book’s profits go straight to organizations doing the work to support Black and LGBTQ students. “Our Gay History in 50 States” book sale proceeds went to LGBTQ youth organizations like the Trevor Project. “Our Black History in 50 States” will similarly go to Black student unions across the country.
Support by donating to the Kickstarter, or buy the book yourself to help bring comprehensive Black history to students and educators throughout the country.