LGBT+ Physicists

Harassment is a serious issue in academia — including the sciences — that negatively impacts climate, retention, and productivity. Anyone can experience workplace harassment but some individuals, such as those who identify as LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, as well as other sexual and gender minorities), are more vulnerable.

The American Physical Society's Ad Hoc Committee on LGBT+ Issues (C-LGBT), formed in 2014, is charged to:

Advise the APS on the current status of LGBT+ issues in physics, provide recommendations for greater inclusion, and engage physicists in laying the foundation for a more inclusive physics community. More specifically, the committee will investigate LGBT+ representation in physics, assess the educational and professional climate in physics, recommend changes in policies and practices that impact LGBT+ physicists, and address other issues that affect inclusion.

Report: LGBT+ Climate in Physics

The C-LGBT obtained information through focus groups held at APS meetings, a detailed climate survey, and a set of in-depth interviews with individuals who self-identify as LGBT+.

The committee released the full report at the APS March Meeting 2016 (view presentation slides format_pdf) and presented the report at the APS April Meeting 2016.


Press Conference

Gray Arrow Press Conference Slides format_pdf
Gray Arrow Press Release format_pdf

Interest in Proposed Forum on Diversity & Inclusion

One of the recommendations from the recent LGBT+ Climate in Physics report was for the APS to establish a Forum on Diversity and Inclusion that works to build a more inclusive, diverse and equitable society for all physicists including women, racial/ethnic minorities, those who identify as LGBT+, persons with disabilities, and others.

Gray Arrow Indicate interest in Forum on Diversity

LGBT Rainbow ThumbnailOver one third of LGBT+ physicists considered leaving their department or workplace last year.

Gray Arrow Harassment Findings format_pdf

LGBT Rainbow ThumbnailMany LGBT+ physicists feel coerced into hiding their identity.

Gray Arrow Closeted Findings format_pdf

LGBT Rainbow ThumbnailWould a transgender student feel supported in your department?

Gray Arrow Transgender Findings format_pdf

Findings

  1. LGBT+ physicists have faced uneven protection and support from legislation and policies.
  2. The overall climate experienced by LGBT+ physicists was highly variable.
  3. In many physics environments, social norms establish expectations of closeted behavior.
  4. Isolation was a common theme for many LGBT+ physicists.
  5. A significant fraction of LGBT+ physicists have experienced or observed exclusionary behavior.
  6. LGBT+ physicists with additional marginalized identities faced greater levels of discrimination.
  7. Transgender and gender-nonconforming physicists encountered the most hostile environments.
  8. Many LGBT+ physicists were at risk for leaving their workplace or school.
  9. LGBT+ physicists reported trouble identifying allies to help mitigate isolation, exclusion, or marginalization.

Recommendations

  1. Ensure a safe and welcoming environment at APS meetings.
  2. Address the need to systematically accommodate name changes in publication records.
  3. Develop advocacy efforts that support LGBT+ equity and inclusion.
  4. Promote LGBT+-inclusive practices in academia, national labs, and industry.
  5. Implement LGBT+-inclusive mentoring programs.
  6. Support the establishment of a Forum on Diversity and Inclusion.

News: LGBT+ Physicists

Resources

In the report, C-LGBT included a resource guide for LGBT+ and other issues format_pdf that includes LGBT+ support and advocacy groups in physics and astronomy, LGBT+ support in the wider STEM community, other diversity organizations in physics and astronomy, academic readings, media resources, and social media resources.

  • lgbt+physicists: An advocacy group for people in physics who are considered sexual minorities and/or gender minorities. Their website hosts an OutList, with names of physics professionals who choose to publicly identify themselves as LGBT+ physicists or allies, as well as media resources and a blog.
  • Committee for Sexual Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy: SGMA is a committee of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) that works to promote equality for sexual-orientation and gender minorities within the Astronomy profession.
  • Supporting LGBT+ Physicists & Astronomers: Best Practices Guide for Academic Departments format_pdf: A document, primarily directed at department chairs, intended to serve as a guide for creating an inclusive department environment that is free from harassment and discrimination against LGBT+ physicists and astronomers. The guide includes both shortterm and long-term department-level suggestions, as well as several recommendations for university-level policies intended to guide conversations with institution administrators. The Best Practices Guide was developed in collaboration between lgbt+physicists and SGMA.
  • Campus Pride: national organization of student leaders working to create a safer environment for LGBT+ students, for example through their SafeSpace Training.
  • oSTEM (Out in STEM): national society dedicated to educating and fostering leadership for LGBT+ communities in the STEM fields
  • Michigan State University's QuILL training can serve as a model for LGBT+-inclusive training

Talks: LGBT+ Physicists

Physics Climate

LGBT+ Climate in Physics

LGBT+ Climate in Physics Press Conference