On May 20, 2017, STORM Robotics hosted its first annual FIRST Compass, an event where teams can give or watch presentations about different subjects in robotics. Representing LGBTQ+ of FIRST, Jaye and Sean presented this slide show to help teams in the MAR region and MAR itself learn how to be more inclusive to LGBTQ+ FIRST participants.
Since numerous teams seemed interested, LGBTQ+ of FIRST is sharing this presentation for all FIRSTers, especially those outside the MAR region and those who missed the event.
Every LGBTQ+ students deserves a welcoming and inclusive environment.
This is a stressful time of year for all of us. Seniors are applying and hearing back from schools, juniors are planning visits, midterms are around the corner, and it’s also build season. It’s really easy to get carried away with the stress and forget about the outside world. Even in the midst of the FRC build season, we still have to remember the FLL and FTC teams that are building and competing for their competitions. Being a safe space and resource for LGBTQ+ youth in FIRST, we want to include everyone, not just FRC members. Life is really stressful as an LGBTQ+ kid, especially with an extracurricular activity as stressful and time consuming as any FIRST organization.
To all my fellow LGBTQ+ FIRSTers out there, I love you, we love you, and your identity is valid, no matter how young you are. Whatever you feel is what is true of your experience. You may change your labels as you come upon ones that fit you better, and that’s okay. Finding your place in the LGBTQ+ community is confusing, but I promise you, it is worth it. As your classmates mature, the taunting will stop and you’ll feel safer, Even if high school is rough, the world is so much bigger than your small community. The world is big and amazing and full of so many opportunities and support for you. Don’t give up.
To the mentors and teachers, support your LGBTQ+ students, even if they are young. Puberty is a rough time for everyone, but especially for LGBTQ+ kids who are growing into an experience they weren’t prepared for. If a student comes out to you, support them. Lend them a shoulder if they need to cry, and build them up. Without support, almost 60% of LGBTQ+ people will attempt suicide, but if you give your students support, that high rate exponentially decreases.
“Results suggested that a hostile school climate has serious ramifications for LGBT students but institutional supports can play a significant role in making schools safer for these students,” [x].
To everyone in FIRST, you can make a safer environment for LGBTQ+ youth. You can start a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) or Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) at your lower schools. You can practice using gender inclusive languages such as “hey, students” instead of “hello, boys and girls.” You can introduce yourself with you pronouns (ex: “Hi, I’m Sean and I use he/him pronouns"). Most importantly, you can be there your your students, because being there makes a huge difference.
The clocks are ticking; there’s only two more days until Kickoff! There’s a lot to think about during this time, such as designing and building a robot, writing code, finishing Chairman’s essays, preparing scouting systems, the list goes on and on. Last, but certainly not least, comes dating.
Dating is always tricky, but it can be even more difficult during build season. It’s hard finding time around robotics to balance homework, self-care, jobs, and relationships. As an LGBT+ student, all these factors and more come into play. By dating, you might risk outing yourself or others; and accidentally creating drama on the team if relations are not kept business-like and graciously professional. Hopefully after reading this, maneuvering the robotics dating field will be much easier!
Dating is always complicated, but if you handle it maturely, your relationship can survive the stress of build and competition season. Good luck to all teams as you take on FIRST Steamworks!
-August S. 2194
Hey Guys! This is a general LGBTQ+ in STEM presentation I made for Purdue FIRST Forums. I encourage people to use this presentation to educate their teams and coworkers on all things queer! The presentation also includes helpful LGBTQ+ resources.
Link to presentation Here
Ferdinand Karsch was a scientist from Germany that identified as homosexual.
He was born on September 2, 1853 in Münster, Germany. He worked as an entomologist, anthropologist, and an arachnologist. He went to college at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin and in 1877 he published a thesis on the gall wasp. He was the curator of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin for 43 years. He published many articles about the specimens of spiders that the museum had received from explorers and naturalists in Africa, China, Japan, and Australia.
In addition to these, he published many articles and studies on homosexuality in the animal world and in communities that were referred to as “primitive.” He lived as openly homosexual in Berlin until December 20, 1936. Unfortunately, Hitler’s rise to power and the oppression of the LGBT community by Nazi’s led to his work being disregarded for a time.
Leonard Matolovich served in the United States Air Force as a pilot from 1963 to 1975. It was there that he made history for the LGBT community. In 1975, after twelve years of service, three tours of duty and earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, he came out to his officers as homosexual, making him the first person to out themselves in the fight against the military’s ban on gay service members. Before coming out, he’d spent much of his life hiding his identity, even going so far as to mock other homosexuals in an attempt to assimilate. He knew that there were others like him in the military, but the ban kept them closeted in fear of discharge. This was exactly what happened to Matolovich. Only six months following his coming out, a three member panel discharged him from the military because of his refusal to sign an agreement to “never practice homosexuality again”.
Because of the lawsuit, the military’s ban was brought to the media’s attention. Matlovich appeared on the cover of Time magazine, the first openly gay person to be featured on the cover of a US publication. After his discharge, he continued to fight against the military ban and became a public figure in the LGBT community. He helped with fundraising and advocating against anti-gay discrimination, specifically efforts to overturn a gay nondiscrimination ordinance and prevent a ban on gay teachers in California.
Matlovich passed away from AIDS in 1988 when he was only 44. Instead of being inscribed with his name, his tombstone reads “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” His bravery to come out in unsure circumstances began the fight for equality for servicemen and women in our armed forces. Today, LGBT people are able to serve our country proudly.
George Takei is the actor who played Sulu in Star Trek. Although that is mostly what he is known for, he is also an Internet personality and social activist. Being a kid during a time of war is always stressful, but for George, the stress was more for him than his peers. During his childhood, the US began putting Japanese Americans in internment camps, and many of his early memories revolve around the great social injustice. As a young kid, Takei felt insecure about his sexual orientation and his ethnicity, but in recent years, especially after the gay pride movement became more accepted, he began to love and accept himself. By 2005, he was ready to come out to the works. At that time, he had already been with his partner, Brad Altman, for 18 years, but he wanted the media to spread his pride. George inspired Asian Americans to join STEM fields but since his coming out, he’s inspiring a lot more people.
To celebrate our pride, we are posting some information on a different LGBT+ person in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) every day. To start, we are picking someone who everyone knows; Alan Turing.Born in 1912, Turing was born a mathematician. At a young age, he exhibited a strong interest in science and math. From 1931 to 1934 he studied at King’s College (University of Cambridge) and graduated as a fellow of the school. During his studies, he proved the central limit theorem in his dissertation.
After graduating, he wrote a paper, entitled, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungs problem.” The paper discussed the possibility of a machine that can compute anything that is computable.
“Over the next two years, Turing studied mathematics and cryptology at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. After receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1938, he returned to Cambridge, and then took a part-time position with the Government Code and Cypher School, a British code-breaking organization” (Biography).
Considered the father of modern computer science, his design created the earliest modern computer. He also provided the basis for modern artificial intelligence. His Enigma machine ended up breaking German codes and allowing the Allied Powers to win the war.
After suffering a break-in from an old partner, Turing reported the break-in to the police. Instead of being helped, he was charged with gross indecency as homosexuality was illegal in England at the time. The two punishments he could chose from were chemical castration or imprisonment. Choosing the former, Turing’s mental health deteriorated and he was rendered impotent. He died on June 7, 1954. He death was ruled a suicide as an apple was found near his body and cyanide was found in his stomach. However, his death could have been a accident since he often worked with the lethal chemical in experiments.
“Following a petition started by John Graham-Cumming, then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown released a statement on September 10, 2009 on behalf of the British government, posthumously apologized to Turing for prosecuting him as a homosexual” (Biography).
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.