Yesterday marked the first annual #LGBTSTEMDay. In case you’re unfamiliar with the acronym, that stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in STEM.
So, why do we need a national day for LGBTQ+ people in STEM?
With same-sex marriage laws just passed last year, and Netflix’s Queer Eye lighting up our screens, it’s easy for the non-queer community to think that the battle for LGBTQ+ rights has already been won.
Unfortunately there’s still a long way to go.
Did you know that it’s considered illegal to be gay in 74 countries around the world? Or that only 26 countries have legalised same sex marriage since 2001?
It doesn’t stop there. There are so many issues particular to STEM careers where LGBTQ+ people don’t feel safe or welcome.
“More than 40 percent of LGBTQ people in STEM are not out,” says Dr. Alfredo Carpineti, Chair and Founder of Pride in STEM, a British charitable trust, and one of the primary organisers of the initiative.
“One-third of out American physicists have been told to stay in the closet to continue their career. Half of transgender or gender non-conforming physicists were harrassed in academia. Gay and bisexual students are less likely to follow an academic career.”
“Solving these problems, requires nothing short of a revolution in how we do science, talk about science, and how we expect science to be.”
That’s where the idea for the international day of recognition (and hashtag to highlight it) came about.
It gives LGBTQ+ people a safe and welcoming environment to declare their identity to the wider STEM community, and feel supported by allies and friends while they do it.
“LGBTQ+ people in STEM are getting their much deserved recognition and allies understand that this is a much needed conversation to have.”
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.