November 18 is the International Day of LGBTQIA+ People in STEM
November 18 has been selected to celebrate and highlight the work and barriers of LGBTQIA+ people in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
Among their many struggles, we see that 28% of LGBT+ people have at some point considered leaving their jobs because of a hostile workplace or discrimination towards them. 2o% of trans people had often considered leaving (2019 Exploring The Workplace For LGBT+ Physical Scientists), which is an abysmally high number. One in three physicists in America has been urged to stay in the closet to progress in their career. Half of the transgender or gender non-conforming physicists were harassed in their own departments (2015 American Physical Society survey). Gay and bisexual students are less likely to follow an academic career (2018 Coming out in STEM: Factors affecting retention of sexual minority STEM students). To these statistics, we need to add barriers and issues specific to other underrepresented groups, which create a much bigger challenge for people with intersectional identities.
The change of date from July comes after the result of an open survey and months of discussion. The date is symbolic of the 60th anniversary of American Astronomer and gay activist Frank Kameny’s US Supreme Court fight against workplace discrimination. This is a fight that continues today, not only in the US but in so many other countries worldwide. Kameny together with Barbara Gittings and Dr. John E. Fryer, were fundamental to make the American Psychiatric Association (APA) remove hmosexuality from their list of mental disorders.
We hope that November 18 comes to represent all the people who continue to make the world of STEM a better and more inclusive place!
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Sorry gang, but we already have plans to mark July 5th. What should we do?
Keep going for it! In the last two years, we had dozens of anti-LGBTQ+ hate messages complaining that “we took the entire month of June and were trying to take July 5th”.
If you have plans in place for July 5th make them happen. We always need more queer science celebrations!! We wholeheartedly support grabbing more unclaimed dates for the cause!
I would like to organise an event - where do I start?
If you would like any advice or support on putting together an event for LGBTQ+STEMDay, please get in touch with us. We might be able to put you in touch with a local group or organisation who can help, and we will definitely help you brainstorm and develop your ideas. We will be sharing a new version of our LGBTSTEMDay toolkit in the new year, but our 2019 toolkit is still available here, where you can find ideas and practical advice for events and local initiatives. You can also find inspiration from previous events by looking back through the #LGBTQSTEMDay and #LGBTSTEMDay and hashtags on Twitter.
Also you can get in touch here or on our social media:
Who Was Frank Kameny?
Frank Kameny was an American astronomer who graduated from Harvard under the supervision of Professor Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the first woman to head a department at Harvard and the first person to realize that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium.
Kameny was a gay man. He was hired in the U.S. Army’s Army Map Service in July 1957 but was fired in January 1958 because they found out he was gay. He was barred from future employment by the federal government.
He appealed his firing through the judicial system but was unsuccessful, so he took the fight all the way to the US Supreme Court. In 1960, during the October Term he fought this battle and a document (linked here) bears the date of November 18.
Is it ok picking a date around November 18th to have an event?
Sure, but we invite caution in the selection making sure that major clashes are avoided or properly addressed.
For example, November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance. If you plan to have a LGBTQIA+ STEM event on that day you must center Transgender Day of Remembrance in your event explain and why it is so important.
We do not want this day to contribute to make intersectional identities within our community invisible.