Diversitea and Cookies: Supporting Trans and Queer Students of Color

June of every year serves as Pride Month for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Despite the current president not recognizing June as National Pride Month (unlike his predecessor), Pride is very much celebrated on a national level this month with, most visibly, pride parades happening all over the country.

In spite of massive increases in acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community, queer individuals still face major risks by being out in the United States. 20-25% of lesbian and gay individuals still experience hate crimes within their lives and queer people of color, particularly trans people of color, are at a much higher risk of experiencing physical and psychological violence than cis white queer individuals. This is a fact that many people, even within the LGBTQ+ community, aren’t aware of and don’t recognize as a major priority (check out #NoJusticeNoPride for more on this lack of intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community).

In light of Pride Month and to highlight the intersectional nature of the obstacles still obstructing many marginalized queer individuals, we wanted to share a resource that supports members of the LGBT community and people of color in academia: the LGBT Resource Professionals from the Consortium of Higher Education’s policy and practice recommendations for supporting trans and queer students of color (TQSOC).

Incredibly comprehensive and intersectional, this resource identifies common ways multicultural spaces restrict access to queer students and how LGBTQ+ resource centers reinforce institutional whiteness. The emphasis on collaboration between ethnic and queer resource centers is key to addressing institutional racism, heterosexism, cissexism, bigotry, and white supremacy. The authors provide concrete ways to address systemic barriers obstructing our TQSOC and provide excellent exercises and questions for self-reflection as well as actual suggested actions one can do to make things more LGBTQ+ inclusive (such as programmatic and material resources, visibility, leadership opportunities, etc.).

Although the information is targeted towards administrative professionals and undergraduates, this resource is useful to all who operate within the realms of STEM and academia.

Fight on and get your Pride on,

– Irvin & Priya

Welcome to Diversi-tea & Cookies: #marginsci

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Irvin is a graduate student at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences studying aquatic toxicology. He blogs about all things related to environmental sciences, including diversity and inclusion in science, at his blog Toxic Musings.  

Priya is a technician with the Bodega Ocean Acidification Research group at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory, who also runs a series on Medium exploring diversity and inclusion in science and academia: The Prosaic Mosaic.

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We are both early career scientists of color in STEM who are deeply invested in diversifying the people within the scientific community as well as the communities that scientists and their science engage with. Priya is the daughter of Indian immigrants and Irvin is the son of Taiwanese immigrants who happens to be gay. We’ve worked with and around each other since we met during our undergraduate education, and we have commiserated on the issues affecting minority scientists and shared resources that have helped us grapple with them. We now want to shine a spotlight on those which have helped us most.

As we’ve just passed the one month anniversary of the March for Science, we wanted to start having more open discussions on the impact the march has had, particularly in bringing up issues of diversity and inclusion that plague science and academia. We started talking about diversity, inclusion and equality in science due to the March for Science leadership’s poor management of this complex and critical issue. At first, we wanted to re-hash everything the March for Science did wrong, because the lead up to the March for Science and the leadership’s treatment of marginalized members of the scientific community are certainly indicative of larger systemic issues in science, but plenty of people have described these and other concerns in greater depth elsewhere.

Instead, we decided it would be more prudent to provide tools that increase awareness about the lack of diversity, inclusion & equality in academia. And, instead of diluting the impact of each of these powerful resources that resonated with us in a single post, we wanted to share them in piecemeal fashion so that we can amplify their worth in a series we are calling Diversi-tea & Cookies.

In this introductory post, we share a resource that was generated in response to the March for Science’s dismissal of marginalized scientists, the Twitter hashtag #marginsci (initially founded by Dr. Stephani Page). This hashtag is a rallying point for many scientists to discuss and share the various ways science is still failing its marginalized scientists. This hub of conversation is also a resource that serves to educate and inform us all about the many issues affecting diverse and intersectional scientists. This oftentimes means that we read things that counter our personal perspectives, but through this painful learning process our empathy increases.

We encourage you to peruse #marginsci and expand your worldview.

~Irvin & Priya