Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments

by Jane on August 27, 2014

Is your department welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees and students?  You should care about the answer.  Institutions that are viewed as unfriendly to LGBT people are at a competitive disadvantage. When LGBT scientists leave our departments to work at other institutions, our students, our scholarly communities, and our own research suffer. Furthermore, an inclusive workplace has advantages for all of us: greater flexibility to perform our work, greater support for work/life issues, and greater freedom to be ourselves.

A new report, Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments, helps you check the health of your department for LGBT inclusion, and guides you through the process of making the necessary changes.  The report gives both short-term and long-term suggestions, as well as ways to help change university-level policies.

Please read the report.  Please discuss it within your own department, and identify which practices you need to implement. Please share in the AstroBetter comment thread what you learn.  How many of these policies does your department follow? Does your department do any of these practices really well? Let us know in the comments!

Also, since I’m a co-author of the report, I need your suggestions on how we should we disseminate our findings within our professional community.  How can we encourage colleagues to implement these best practices?  I’ve thought about hosting a contest or challenge, where people identify a best practice their department isn’t doing, implement it, and share their experience on social media.  Would that work?  Do you have a better idea?

Credit where credit is due:  The report was written as a collaboration between two groups: the lgbt+physicists, and the Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (WGLE, pronounced “wiggly”) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).  Jane is a co-author of the report.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Mike August 27, 2014 at 8:59 am

“Transgender” is falling into disuse due to not being inclusive of the wide spectrum of gender identities; in its place, trans* is being used (see e.g. http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/01/10/trans_what_does_it_mean_and_where_did_it_come_from.html).

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