The open publishing projects we support not only enhance the educational experiences of students, they also help students feel seen and supported on a personal level. One such project is a university-level LGBTQ+ studies textbook entitled Introduction to LGBTQ+ Studies: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach.
Deb Amory, a cultural anthropologist and professor at SUNY Empire State College, was looking for a textbook to use in her LGBTQ+ studies course but found most of the commercial materials available too narrowly focused and expensive for her students. When Amory started learning more about open educational resources (OER), she decided to create her own high-quality textbook that would be accessible, affordable, and provide a wide range of disciplinary approaches.
Amory connected with Allison Brown, digital publishing services manager at SUNY Geneseo, who had experience publishing OER and they began working with our organization on the project. Because Amory was completely new to the world of OER, Rebus’ Textbook Support Program was instrumental in the creation of LGBTQ+ Studies: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach.
To create the textbook, Amory and Brown relied heavily on our tangible resources like our Guide to Publishing Open Textbooks. They carefully followed the steps it provided which helped keep them on the same page. Our regular check-ins where we offer guidance also helped keep them on track toward their goals.
The team also found value in their Textbook Support Program cohort that provided a space to share ideas and discuss best practices with other professionals who were going through the same process. The collaborative community environment was a welcome change from the independent work environment they were accustomed to in higher education.
With the help of Sean Massey, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at Binghamton University, Jennifer Miller, then a lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington, and our staff, the team was able to produce a robust cross-disciplinary resource that covers topics like healthcare, law, education, anthropology, archeology, and literature. Amory created the textbook with her students in mind, so it includes a variety of topics and approaches that all students can find engaging.
LGBTQ+ Studies: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach is remarkable because there have been rapid changes in how we discuss topics like sexuality and gender identity in the past few years, but as OER, the textbook can be adjusted to reflect the latest, most accurate information. Also, with the textbook being OER, anyone in the world can have access to information that may not be readily available to them where they live. OER like LGBTQ+ Studies: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach can help students feel represented in their classrooms or just more equipped to support LGBTQ+ individuals in their communities. Many of Amory’s students take her course because they work in a field like healthcare or education where they encounter LGBTQ+ individuals and they want to learn how to better serve as allies and advocates. The fact that a textbook can promote representation for marginalized communities in their classrooms, provide greater awareness of certain topics, and encourage more compassion for minority populations illustrates the power of OER to enact positive change and support equity and inclusion.