A group that is often left out or excluded in STEM is the LGBTQIA+ community. This issue of marginalization hits home with our team because one of our team members Kai came out as non-binary during the course of this season. As a team having a member who is non-binary has educated on the importance of LGBTQIA+ representation in STEM, so we worked in conjunction with Seacoast Outright, an LGBTQIA+ centre in Portsmouth which hosts weekly meetings and support groups for high school students. Support groups such as GSA and other national organizations are especially critical for LGBTQIA+ youth due to the politicization of the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals and the fact the still many families and communities are not accepting of LGBTQIA+ kids. Also, even though many STEM companies have been more progressive in terms of LGBTQIA+ inclusive policies and have been working towards providing more inclusive environments there is a lack of LGBTQIA+ individuals in STEM.
In early January, Kai and David Song went to one of Seacoast Outright youth meetings. In the meeting Kai and David Song talked about the Rover Ruckus competition along with our robot design. Kai also presented a section about the history of LGBTQIA+ individuals in STEM including people such as Alan Hart, Alan Turing, and Sara Josephine Baker. Alan Hart was one of the first men of transgender experience in the United States to go through medical transition. He also helped in tuberculosis screening and prevention in Iowa in the early 1900s. Alan Turing was a gay man who is also the famous cryptanalysis mathematician who created Enigma during WW2 in order to break the German’s communication code. And Sara Josephine Baker was a lesbian woman who made contributions to public health in the immigrant communities of New York City during the early 1900s and late 1800s by decreasing the infant mortality rate through the usage of sanitation implementation and medical stations. All of these people have been influential in Kai’s journey as a LGBTQIA+ person in STEM.
After the presentation David and Kai got to talk to the people at the youth group meeting. Kai reflected on the overall experience: “It was really great to get a chance to talk with other LGBTQIA+ high schoolers, I found many of them really excited about the STEM fields, but found many of them had be discouraged due a lack of resources after the courses in CAD offered in middle school, it was nice to get to talk to other LGTBQIA+ youth who often have a similar passion for STEM as myself.”