Transgender Awareness Week 2022
Last week was trans awareness week, a week dedicated to bringing awareness to transgender people internationally and the struggles they face. The final day (November 20th) was trans remembrance day, a day dedicated to remembering victims of transphobic violence. Transgender awareness week was created in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith in honor of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998. Ever since then we take the day of November 20th to mourn those lost to violence and hate crimes due to nothing more than living their truest lives.
Trans awareness week holds many different values to different members of the community. For many, this is a day of celebration, a week for gender-nonconforming people from around the world to celebrate their identity and all that has been accomplished for the transgender community. For others, it is a time of mourning for friends, family, and community members lost.
For those who celebrate it is shown by parades, parties, and events held by local community members. All around just working to make themselves visible and show that they are proud of who they are. It is also used as a time to educate the public on transgender rights and gender-nonconforming identities. There are programs run across the country to educate on everything from sex ed to advocacy for trans students.
As issues with transgender students especially when it comes to sports arise, the importance of these celebrations and attempts to bring awareness are all that much more important. As young people grow more confident and comfortable with their identities in the newer generations anti-trans hate groups have also grown. These groups work to dispute the validity of transgender identities and cause harm in the community.
Now you may be wondering, what can I, a mentor, a student, a friend, or a teacher do to make transgender students feel safer? Luckily there's a lot you can do! Some important things are making sure your students or friends know you are a safe space and support them. Another thing is to provide gender-neutral bathrooms and spaces for all students. For many students in FIRST, travel rooming is also a concern so it is important to have open honest conversations with your team to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable.
Coming out to one’s community as an LGBTQ+ student is a daunting experience. Many wonder if they will find community, support, or respect after coming out. For me, coming out was made easier by the inclusion and respect our team had fostered for the LGBTQ+ community. Walking into our team’s pit for the first time, I saw the pride flag boldly displayed as members from our team handed out pamphlets for LGBTQ+ of FIRST. To me, it signaled that my team was going to be a safe space for me to come out and be respected in my identity.
The importance of making one’s team a safe space for queer and trans members cannot be understated. Here are some ways to make one’s team a more inclusive and supportive space for LGBTQ+ members.
1. Have an easy way for members to share their pronouns
Sharing pronouns is an important way for members to share their identities. By normalizing sharing one’s pronouns on your team, you signal that your team is a safe space for trans and nonbinary members to express their authentic selves. To do this, your team can add a section for pronouns on team name tags or produce pronoun pins to distribute among team members.
2. Show pride in the workshop and at competitions
By displaying symbols such as the pride flag or the trans flag in your team workshop and at competitions, you indicate that your team is a welcoming and safe space for LGBTQ+ members.
3. Respect members that come out
When members come out, respect their identities and feel free to ask questions on how to best support them. However, it is important that you respect the member’s privacy as well and do not share their identity unless they ask you to do so. It is also important to simply treat the member as any other and not single them out for their identity for any purpose.
4. Educate your team on LGBTQ+ identities
Taking time to educate one’s team on LGBTQ+ identities and the challenges they have faced is a valuable way to have team members better understand LGBTQ+ members, which can lead to increased inclusion and respect for queer and trans members on your team.
5. Create inclusive team policy
Adding clauses to team guidelines explicitly stating to respect LGBTQ+ members or making all members pledge to include and support LGBTQ+ members are good ways to not only ensure that your team is respectful to queer and trans members, but also signal to queer and trans members that the team will be a respectful and inclusive place for them.
6. Listen to LGBTQ+ member voices
It is extremely important to truly listen to the voices of LGBTQ+ members on your team. Provide spaces for LGBTQ+ members to express their views and suggest ideas to make their team a more inclusive and respectful place.
Ambassador, LGBTQ+ of FIRST
Interview with Jon Kentfield
As a part of LGBTQ+ of FIRST’s pride month activities, I was given the opportunity to interview Mr. Jon Kentfield. Mr. Kentfield is a co-founder of the Rainbow STEM Alliance (RSA), serves as the manufacturing manager at AndyMark, and is a long-time FIRST alumnus and volunteer as well. For most, he needs no introduction, but he gave several details and insights that I personally found fascinating, and I’m sure you will as well.
Q: Why don’t you start by talking a little bit about yourself, what you do, and how you got here?
A: “My name is Jon Kentfield, I’m a cis gay man, and use he/him prounouns. I’m a mechanical engineer and currently am the manufacturing manager at AndyMark!
I started on a FIRST® LEGO® League team in 2000 after my mom had taken me to see the FRC regional sponsored by her company at the time. She had some coworkers volunteering there who told her to bring me. I then joined the FRC program in 2001-02 and graduated in 2005 as my team’s president and drive coach.
In 2003 I started volunteering at worlds when it was in Houston the first time! I got hooked and have been volunteering ever since, 20 seasons now! On top of being a head referee for FRC and FTC, I also am a cofounder and president ofThe Rainbow STEM Alliance.”
Q: You’ve been in FIRST since before many of our members were born, can you describe what the queer environment was like within the program? How did this compare to the world at the time and what you saw outside of FIRST?
A: “Queer involvement was a thing, but most LGBTQ+ (myself included) were pretty closeted. One of my drivers, and the person I eventually came out to first, was the only out person I had any regular contact with at the time. I was the subject of a lot of bullying within my own middle and high school times, for at the time, what others perceived my sexuality to be. It kept me pretty closeted.
However, my team, and more specifically the other seniors I graduated with, were always welcoming and accepting. They even had offered to find me a guy to take as my date for prom if had preferred that. Mind you, I wasn’t out, but everyone in my life basically knew I think. They literally saved my life. I honestly don’t think I would have survived high school if it hadn’t been for my FRC teammates.
The world in the early 2000’s was not kind to queer people (much more so than today), but FIRST has always seemed to be a safe place accepting of outsiders”
Q: When did you begin seeing a serious shift toward making FIRST such an inclusive environment? When would you say it became (mostly) safe for people to present themselves genuinely at events?
A: “I don’t think I saw the major shift towards inclusion until the LGBTQ+ of FIRST student organization was founded and specifically the fact that folks like Woodie Flowers, Frank Merrick, and others within HQ staff wore pins to events and on streams. The work of the student org really has precipitated a cultural shift, and I’m so thrilled to be able to help continue the change.
I mean, I wasn’t publicly out until 2018, when I felt like I needed to be a visible presence at events, especially in Indiana. I wanted to be an example of a (at least moderately) successful gay man, who could still do FIRST at high levels. As an AndyMark employee and head referee, I have a platform and a visible role to do that.”
Q: Obviously, you’re known for founding the RSA. Care to tell people what it is and how it came to be?
A: “My co-founder Tom Wexler convinced me to start the Rainbow STEM Alliance so that the LGBTQ+ of FIRST pins could be sustainably created in the future. The first year or two, they were done with Go Fund Me campaigns where friends and family would give me gifts to put towards the pin costs. The Rainbow STEM Alliance allowed us to grow the program and now we have scholarships, pronoun pins, and a lot more in the works!”
Q: There are many queer students who have come to view you as a role model. Would you say that you have a responsibility toward the younger members of our community? If so, what would you say it is?
A: “Oh jeez. It’s still weird to me that anyone would look up to me. (But again, it’s part of why I live an out life now, because I know there are people who do, and I just want to be a visible presence.) Otherwise, I’m just a guy trying to do a small part to make the world suck a little less.
That being said, I definitely have a responsibility to do my best to learn and grow as the community does. I am not perfect. I make mistakes too. The biggest thing for me is to own those mistakes, and learn from them. There is still so much about queer culture as a whole I don’t know. I don’t have the lived experiences of trans and non binary folks. I don’t identify as ace or aero [sic]. So I try to learn from those around me who do.”
Q: There are also many who are unfortunately unable to be open about themselves due to a variety of factors ranging from community, to family, even to personal reservations. If they are reading this article, do you have anything to say to them? If so, what?
A: “Stay with us. Find your chosen family. Come out at your own time, in your own way. Find a therapist you can talk with openly and honestly! Everyone’s coming out is as unique as they are. I started coming out in my 20’s but wasn’t publicly out until my 30’s. I’ve known since my early teens. Don’t feel like you have to come out. Don’t let people force you out.”
Q: Wrapping this up on the lighter side, are you looking forward to anything in particular this month or for this upcoming FIRST season?
A: “I love pride month. While pride events always give me some anxiety, the feeling of belonging is incredible. The ability to just exist in a space with other queer people brings me a comfort I can’t explain.
Also, in August I am helping out with the first LGBTQ+ off season event, called The Rainbow Rumble! It’s going to be incredible (and everyone should sign your teams up for it!)
As for the FIRST seasons? I always love the start of a new season! Especially seeing the reactions flood in the first weeks or the water game guesses the weeks leading up to kickoffs. 20+ years in, and it still doesn’t get old. The anticipation and joy of a new season just gets me every time!”
We would like to thank Mr. Kentfield for his time and consideration to make this interview happen. Much of what is said is sure to resonate with you whether you’re queer or an ally participating in FIRST in any capacity. We appreciate everything he does for our organization and FIRST as a whole, and I appreciate you for reading this article.
Moderator and Representative, LGBTQ+ of FIRST
Trans Day of Visibility
So, it’s trans day of visibility. Obviously, there are a number of dates year-round that celebrate the queer community in some capacity; so many that some wonder why. I’d like to share a story to help people understand.
I was 16 years old, and only recently struggling with my identity. For the first time in a while, I was excited to “know” who I was, and ready to share it with someone. At my counselor’s office after school, I excitedly share the news:
“I figured it out! I’m not a guy!”
My excitement was not matched, as she gave me a look of shock and confusion. I don’t want to make this entirely about myself, so I’ll give the gist. The following weeks of therapy were extremely invasive and uncomfortable, to the point I simply refused to speak at times and leave after 5 minutes. We stopped shortly after as I pretended to be “better”. Much more harm than good was done in that period of time.
My point is that people don’t understand trans people at the level they really should. Trans Day of Visibility is a day meant to promote that understanding. It’s for trans people to speak and have their voices heard.
It’s important to acknowledge that for most trans people, their identity is not a choice. Gender Dysphoria (the condition that many trans people suffer from) is a painful neurological condition where one’s gender does not match their biological sex. It can only really be alleviated by gender affirming actions aesthetically, medically, socially, or in a variety of other ways. Even then, dysphoria is extremely limiting in many aspects of one’s life and never truly goes away. To make matters worse, trans people often face external barriers.
These can manifest as “simpler” issues, such as the inability to find a bathroom they can use or gender affirming clothing that fits their body type. It can also appear as broader issues such as access to affirming care, employment opportunities, name changes, etc. The issues also extend into the abstract when social isolation, dissociation, and the ever-present feelings of not belonging are discussed. In addition, it’s not uncommon to face harassment, threats, or even violence for being trans just about anywhere in the world.
As trans people face a cold and unkind world and likely will for years to come, change is happening. Where you are, it might not be legislative. It might not even be noticeable to most people, but it’s vital to creating a better future. At my most recent competition, my old marketing mentor didn’t know I was going by a new name and pronouns. When she accidentally greeted me with my deadname, my whole team (hailing from an extremely bigoted part of rural Indiana) all stepped in to correct her at once.
You could look at the news and see all the legislation being passed to hurt trans people, but make no mistake, the humanity of most decent people will prevail as it always has throughout history. Looking at all this change, subtle as it may be, it gives me hope. While FIRST has a long way to go, the action they’ve taken and the environment they’ve created gives me hope. Seeing more people feeling ready to come out in spite of everything gives me hope. Not everyone can be visible today. Even within FIRST, many trans people are not able to live as who they truly are for a variety of factors. To them, I wish to say that we’re here, and we’re with you, no matter what team, nation, or culture you come from. It’s apparent in the pins, the pride flags, and representatives now being almost omnipresent at all FIRST events. I would like to thank you for reading this, and wish you a happy Trans Day of Visibility.
- Eva True [Indiana]
Pride Month 2021
Happy Pride Month! We hope you’ve all found ways to celebrate safely during COVID. If you’d like to celebrate with us, we’ve got big plans this month! Here are some ways you can get hyped with us!
LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST August 2020 Update
Good Afternoon! The LGBTQ+ of FIRST would like to issue the following update as to the current state and the future of our organization.
It is with no surprise that with the current COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently the cancellation of all FIRST Robotics events that our organization is currently stagnant. With no competition outreach, pin distribution, partner team held events, official meetups, or world championship conferences, it has been quite difficult to increase the scope of our organization. However, this is no excuse for the radio silence and missed opportunities like for example, pride month social media events and blog posts done in previous years, an official acknowledgement of the Black Lives Matter protests across the world, and mental health advice to deal with the current pandemic. It is also with poor timing that this time period normally marks the change of management of our organization’s Administrators, of which all but one have retired.
It would be a failure of our duties to hand off the organization we love in its current state to the next round of Admins, so we would like to take this time to make some long overdue changes to our structure, cement some previously relaxed policies, and be more transparent on certain issues. Most of these are minute formalities of previously in place structures, but there are some changes that we would like to be transparent about.
I. Updated Partner Team Tiers
Our current partner team system is centered around material distribution and hosting outreach events. The following is an excerpt from our old Partner Team Guidelines:
The following is what we would like to see become our new Partner Team tier structure:
The most notable changes are the substitution of the silver tier’s “assisting with an event” requirement for the option of either producing materials or hosting a meetup and the specification for gold tier events to original presentations or events. There are a few reasons for these changes:
II. Moderator Role
The LGBTQ+ of FIRST Discord has always been a large part of the organization, but it always has and always will be just one of our many community outreach programs. The Admin team’s responsibilities are the maintenance of the organization and the upkeep of our brand, but the Discord server moderation has always been lumped in with that as well. The organization has always been tied to Discord, so this is understandable, but the Admin role should be about more than just being a Discord mod.
There has also recently been a lot of tension regarding the trustworthiness of Staff and their ability to understand the Discord server population. Because of these reasons, the Admins have created a new Moderator staff role solely devoted to the upkeep of the Discord server. We are thinking a group of 8-10 individuals who are online frequently, are active members of the server, know the community well, and know how to keep things civil.
Moderators will act much like the Admins do in the server, but their jurisdiction ends at server moderation decisions and civil upkeep. Representatives and Ambassadors may also hold the title of Moderator, but Moderators themselves will not have jurisdiction over organization decisions. We’ve noticed server members often fluctuate in frequency of activity (which is not a bad thing!), so the Admins will enforce the activity requirement for Moderators more strictly. Because of this, Moderators may come and go, but because of their status as active members of the community, the idea is that the current Moderators will always be trusted individuals who can resolve server conflicts. Admins will continue to be the main governing body of the LGBTQ+ of FIRST and still have moderating powers.
Because of this new dedicated Mod role, Representatives will no longer be expected to moderate the server, but they should still report misconduct if they see it, just as any other server member should. Ambassadors were never expected to moderate, but the same will go for them; it is up to the Moderators and Admins to make disciplinary response decisions.
If you are interested in applying for the Moderator position, you may do so here.
III. Updated Staff Structure
The role of Administrators will mainly stay the same in that they will still be the main governing body of the LGBTQ+ of FIRST. There will, however, be stricter guidelines on Admin participation and clearer communication with inactive Administrators. Administrators will still be responsible for actively participating in organization projects and contributing to the betterment of the organization.
The role of Representative will also see stricter guidelines on participation, but not change much from its original purpose. An already existing responsibility of Representatives is active engagement in organization projects, however this requirement has not been enforced for some time. We would like to make the Representative role more distinguished from the Ambassador role, so we will be requiring a higher level of participation. These are outlined in the Representative Application as well as the LGBTQ+ of FIRST Handbook.
In addition, Representatives were recently informally asked to help with moderation, but with the addition of the new Moderator role, this is not necessary, and in fact is discouraged. If Representatives would like to see change with regards to server moderation strategies, they are encouraged to apply as Moderator here.
Ambassadors will still be the main representative body of the LGBTQ+ of FIRST at competitions and events. As for Discord moderation, we appreciate the initiative for Ambassadors to moderate. However, because the Moderator and Admin positions are more heavily vetted, we ask that Ambassadors report conflicts in the server to Moderators and Admins directly. They are also encouraged to apply as Moderator, if they would like to contribute this way.
Similarly to our update of the Partner Team Guidelines, we acknowledge that everybody may not agree with these changes and did not sign up for some of these responsibilities, so we will offer similar opportunities to provide feedback and change staff positions, if needed.
IV. Updated Representative Application Cycle
With the increased responsibilities of Representatives and a heavier focus on contributing to organization projects, we would like to provide more of an opportunity for those interested to contribute to the organization to do so. In the past, the Representative application window has coincided with the Admin application window. Starting now, we will be opening up Representative applications year round. If you are interested in applying, you can do so here.
V. Black Lives Matter Protests and Healthy Server Discussion
The following goes for all political discussion in the Discord server, but is most recently applicable to the Black Lives Matter protests and the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others. It is with recent crackdowns on political discussion in our Discord server that we feel the need to rethink the way we handle moderating political discussion.
Political discussion is notoriously difficult to moderate on Discord servers, especially with our small Admin team, but given that we will be welcoming new Moderators to the staff team, it is only right we allow more political discussion in our server. Our plan is to create a politics channel to provide a safe, quarantined environment for people to express their opinions while maintaining the healthy atmosphere of the rest of the server. The politics channel is only open Fridays from 8PM - 1AM and Sundays 12PM - 4PM and has a 60 second slowmode. Admins and Moderators will be responsible for moderating these discussions
The African American community and other minority communities have been silenced in America through systemic racism and oppression and with the mission our organization has and the mission of FIRST, it is not right to suppress discussion of these topics. It is our duty to provide a safe space for people of all backgrounds to gather and part of that includes providing the means to acknowledge the prejudices that these communities face. We would like to take this moment to apologize for any suppression of political discussion. Your voices deserve to be heard and we will stand by you in these difficult times.
VI. LGBTQ+ of FIRST Handbook
The goal of the LGBTQ+ of FIRST Handbook is to outline the guidelines, procedures, and timelines for this organization. It is our hope that this structure will increase efficiency and ensure the passing down of knowledge between Admin teams. It also includes a much needed project timeline and proposed deadlines for certain tasks and milestones. All of the changes to the organization in this email are reflected in the Handbook, but there may be some minute additions in the Handbook we forgot to mention here. Please let us know if this is the case and we can address the issue.
LGBTQ+ of FIRST Handbook
It is our hope that with these changes come improved efficiency, better allocation of resources, and better communication, but we understand if you may not agree with some of these changes. Please feel free to email us at email@example.com with any feedback on these updates. We look forward to the next FIRST season and we hope you all stay safe during these unprecedented times.
Happy Trans Day of Visibility!
Hello everyone! First of all, happy Transgender Day of Visibility! I have not been a member of LGBTQ+ of FIRST for very long, but we are a very fun and accepting community. Today, being trans day of visibility, I and people everywhere are coming out and being visible. This day is wonderful because we are raising awareness and showing that there are strong, confident, and wonderful trans people all over the world in every skill and profession. I am so proud of every single one of you, closeted or out, questioning or positive, whoever you are. I am proud of you! You are strong! I would like to give a loud proud shoutout to all of the wonderful, smart transgender people of FIRST! You are all amazing people, you are very smart, and you are what makes FIRST, FIRST!
Ambassador, LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST 2020 Pin Distribution
Good evening! It’s that time of year again; we’re ready to start sending out pins and we need your help! The Rainbow STEM Alliance has set up this GoFundMe so you can donate directly to them. Donations will go towards funding our logo pins, new pronoun pins, and other goals for their organization. Huge thanks to RSA for everything you do, you guys are the best!
In addition, we need all the promotion we can get, so we’ll be launching a campaign soon featuring stories about how the pins are important to you, a spotlight from RSA themselves, and more! On the note of stories, we want to hear from you! Feel free to share any significant moments you had involving LGBTQ+ of FIRST pins in this Google Form. These will be posted on the blog, so feel free to leave any names in your story blank or use pseudonyms.
Lastly, we would be extremely grateful if you feel safe sharing this fundraiser. Please don’t feel like you have to if it’s unsafe to do so, but we could use the help if you’re willing to shout us out on social media. Just make sure to link the GoFundMe above, we’d really appreciate it!
Huge thanks to everyone involved in making this happen! These pins are a symbol of our organization and values and we’re glad to have this opportunity for another year. We’ll keep you updated as we reach new milestones!
LGBTQ+ of FIRST Staff
The first Pride parade was in 1970, in the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement and following the Stonewall Riots. At the time, the opposition to allowing LGBTQ+ people to coexist with the general population was contentious: many LGBTQ+ people lived in “gay villages” or “gay ghettos,” with little opportunity and significant violence. The Pride parade was a statement that we’re a part of this world too and that we won’t be swept to the side. The well-known chant “We’re here, we’re queer” is a political statement, making it clear that we do not intend to be brushed away into ghettos or to leave behind who we are. There are thousands of us, walking down your streets, our streets, being who we are, and we’re not leaving. Despite the threats and legal assaults, the Gay Liberation Movement pushed through and made its message loud and clear.
Fifty years since the Stonewall Riots, Pride looks a bit different than it originally did. Today, your average Pride parade is a time for celebration and includes city officials, companies, and the general public. There’s certainly a lot to celebrate. Over the last fifty years, dozens of countries have legalized same-sex relationships and begun to treat LGBTQ+ people as they would any other citizen. The road there was not easy and is not over, but Pride is when we look back and show pride in our accomplishments.
It is also to show pride in who we are. Due to things like a general lack of acceptance, the stigma on standing out in this way, and the difficulties homophobia and transphobia has caused people in their lives, it’s easy to be ashamed or embarrassed to be a part of this community. However, it should be even easier to say that it’s a part of who you are and to be proud of it, just as you would for any other aspect of yourself. Going to Pride means seeing thousands of people celebrating what others would shun, making it just a bit easier to say that it’s something you’re proud. For me, going to Pride meant not feeling like the odd one out for the first time. I was free to feel good about myself without feeling the slightest judgment or strangeness, which is really something everyone deserves to feel.
Despite the progress, things aren’t perfect now. Pride parades often are accompanied with protestors denouncing what they consider wrong or immoral. Even worse, Pride isn’t always a safe place to be, especially surrounding the parade. Just this year, we’ve had to deal with Nazis and active shooter scares. That same violence that the 1970s movement protested still exists today, intimidating and harming people simply celebrating who they are.
Whether in 1970 or 2019, the Pride Parade has the same message: we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not leaving. And that’s something to be proud of.
What Pride Means To Me
Ah, Pride month is here. I know this because Target and Macy’s both have their displays of requisite rainbow clothing, a garment to wear that says, “look at me! I’m-“ I’m what, exactly? Gay? Queer? Something on a spectrum to be labeled? And why is this month different than other months?
Pride Month, like many things in culture and history, is complicated. Its history is a wonderful mix of defiance, joy, sadness, and most certainly, passion. To me, Pride Month is a celebration of who we are, a reminder of where we’ve been, a protest against injustices, and a joyous hope for a better world to come.
As a celebration, Pride month allows us all to be who we are, in whatever form that takes. My name is Tom, I use he/him pronouns, and I identify as Bi.
A few months ago, I was at a performance of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. One of the men had a service dog, and during the question and answer period a high schooler asked “whose dog was it?” The gentleman shared an answer I will not soon forget. He said that the service dog was a promise to his longtime partner who died from AIDS. He would continue to use his voice to make a difference in this world, fighting for equality and rights. Not that long ago, being gay meant not having the same rights as others, with the very real possibility of being arrested.
Newsweek summarized the complex history of Pride here: https://www.newsweek.com/pride-month-2019-stonewall-50th-anniversary-history-lgbtq-america-history-1440491. Sophia Waterfield writes, “You have to understand that in the 1950s all U.S. states had laws criminalizing same-sex sexual behavior. You could be arrested and even imprisoned for even proposition[ing] someone for sex in public. Lesbians and gay men were routinely fired from their jobs if their boss or coworkers discovered their sexual orientation.
“The laws criminalizing same-sex activity gradually disappeared from state penal codes over the years but the U.S. Supreme Court only called them unconstitutional in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas.”
I find it amazing that the current generation of youth are so accepting of others’ sexual and gender identities. Is the world at 100% acceptance? I would be naive to say yes. But it’s far better than even a decade or two ago, which is great progress. Each Pride event is an opportunity to demand acceptance, to demand the same basic rights as any others - human rights. The right to exist, the right to be free in one’s actions, the right to love, the right to body autonomy, the right to dance - every right that is afforded to heterosexual, cisgender people should be applied in the same positive manner to everyone on the gender and sexuality spectrums.
Pride reminds us what the best in all of us can be - welcoming, inclusive, and, well, proud.
I love being a part of this wonderful community of LGBTQ+, but there are times where I feel I don’t belong. I sometimes wonder, “am I ‘gay’ enough to be a part of a conversation?” Because I have done some things and not others, do those things make me less of an LGBTQ+ person? As I look back at the history of Pride, and where we are today, seeing the amazing people who are so welcoming into the LGBTQ+ group, I can answer my own question - if you identify in any way or part of this group, then you are a part of this amazing band of humanity.
So, here I am with this message to you. Pride month is just that - a moment to let yourself be proud. Be proud of who you are. Be proud of where we’ve come as a group. Be proud of where we’re going.
I may even buy something rainbow this year.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is a student run organization that advocates awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ students, mentors, and volunteers of FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST reaches out to over 1000 members across the FIRST regions and fronts multiple outreach endeavors.