The PRISM Board organized a multi-institutional group to march in New York City Pride on June 24 under the banner of the national organization Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM). We hosted approximately 60 LGBTQ+ and allied scientists from 17 institutions—academic, industrial, nonprofit, educational—who marched in Manhattan south on 7th Avenue through Greenwich Village and then north on 5th Avenue, join ~450 other LGBTQ+ organizations, major corporations, politicians, and media figures. Our contingent was one of a very few STEM-related groups in the march.
We marched to celebrate the openness we enjoy that was won by older generations, but also to protest the continued lack of equal treatment of LGBTQ+ scientists. Although studies have demonstrated that LGBTQ+ individuals leave STEM majors at a greater rate, and that LGBTQ+ scientists report discrimination in the workplace, they are not recognized as an underrepresented group by any major funding agency—a designation that could mitigate some of these disadvantages. Transgender scientists in particular face especially high levels of discrimination and encounter major institutional bureaucratic hurdles while transitioning and even years later.
Our group was comprised of people from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, many countries of origin, and a broad spectrum of LGBTQ+ identities, underscoring the diversity we envision for the future of the scientific workforce. We hope that, by marching, we have inspired others to live authentic, open lives as scientists and to realize they are not alone. We also hoped to raise awareness to the march’s spectators that LGBTQ+ people are an important part of the scientific workforce. Throughout the march, we heard onlookers exclaim, “Wow, scientists!” underscoring how infrequently the public seems to interact with STEM professionals.