The American Astronomical Society (AAS) Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA) works to promote equality for sexual-orientation and gender minorities (SGMs) within our profession, including those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning or queer, or asexual. SGMA was originally established as the Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (WGLE) in January 2012.
- Visit our page on Facebook
- Please join us at the 230th AAS meeting in Austin this summer. We will staff a table at the Student Orientation on Sunday and will host a Meet & Greet event on Monday.
The LGBTIQA astronomy community in the US has a general email list, GLBTQastro which everyone is welcome to join. All AAS members are invited to participate in SGMA; to join, contact SGMA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why We Exist
Many LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning or queer, and asexual) people are scientists, and many workplaces have adopted non-discrimination policies. Still, LGBTIQA astronomers continue to face discrimination. In 28 of the 50 United States, it is legal to fire someone solely because they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual; in 32 states it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. While most workplaces prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, such policies are not universal, and many workplaces do not ban discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Hostile scientific work environments still exist, with negative consequences for the productivity and well-being of LGBTIQA scientists, especially the most junior.
To address these concerns, SGMA works to promote equality for LGBTIQA individuals within our profession. SGMA has developed a set of best practices for institutions and departments that wish to be more welcoming to their LGBTIQA colleagues, staff, and students. SGMA provides training and materials on LGBTIQA issues and diversity and promotes mentoring and networking within the LGBTIQA community. Finally, since homophobia, sexism, and racism have common roots, SGMA works with CSWA and CSMA to increase opportunities for all who wish to pursue a career in astronomy.
These issues should concern all AAS members, because the concept of meritocracy is central to any scientific society, and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is profoundly anti-meritocratic. Through SGMA, we are working to make our profession more equitable and more diverse.
The Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA) is tasked with promoting equality for sexual-orientation and gender minorities (SGMs) within our profession, including those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning or queer, or asexual. To that end, SGMA works to
- end hiring and workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression
- eliminate the inequalities in compensation experienced by SGMs;
- create a professional climate that respects and values diversity
- serve as a conduit for communication between the AAS Council and the SGM community
- support networking and peer mentoring among SGMs
- provide resources to support SGM equality within the astronomical profession
Transtronomers is a small-but-totally-awesome community of trans astro folks on Facebook that provides an open discussion forum and mutual support for astronomers who happen to be transgender. As this is a secret group, membership and in-group activity is confidential, and new members must be recommended by a current member. Facebook message Jessica Mink, MacKenzie Warren, or Theresa Mason Fisher if you wish to join.
Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments
Equality begins at home. If your department or institution wants to be more welcoming to LGBTIQA students and colleagues, have a look at our new report, Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments. Jointly developed by WGLE and LGBT+ Physicists, this document presents ideas for improving the climate in your department, both today and for the long term, tips for addressing hiring and personnel issues, and suggestions for advocacy at the institutional level. Check also our best practices brochure.
Want a department that is more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) students, staff, and faculty? Want to support your LGBT+ colleagues without making them feel awkward? What's the deal with bathrooms, anyway? Fear not: SGMA has established a speakers bureau. If your department would like to host a talk on LGBT+ issues, please write to email@example.com.
- Letter from the AAS president to the president of the Indian Astronomical Society, announcing its support for "The Indian LGBTIQ community, especially those pursuing astronomical research", and decrying the recent Indian Supreme Court decision that re-criminalized homosexuality.
- Our poster (many thanks to Jane Rigby!), presented at the 223rd AAS meeting, on "How the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA affected astronomers".
- Notes from WGLE Town Hall Meeting, June 2012, Anchorage AAS meeting
- Jane Rigby's presentation on Frank Kameny (March 2012, YouTube, 25m)
- Recruitment and Retention of LGBTIQ Astronomers, presentation at January 2012 AAS meeting (PDF)
- January 2012: AAS honors Frank Kameny, astronomer and gay rights pioneer
- Obituary for Frank Kameny (1925-2011), astronomer and gay rights pioneer
- Astronomy Outlist (list of LGBT astronomers and allies)
- How to join GLBTQastro email group
- AAS Anti-Harassment Policy now includes gender identity or expression and sexual orientation
- Astrodyke blog
- Women in Astronomy blog
- AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy
- AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy
- Why sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression must be considered together (from Women in Astronomy blog, April 2012)
- Resources on treatment of substance abuse for LGBTQ people by DrugRehab.com
Resources for Professionals
- NOGLSTP: National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals
- LGBT+ Physicists
- Google Group for LGBTIQQAP+ Physicists
- LGBT Physicists and Astrophysicists facebook page
Resources for Students
- LGBTIQ-friendly campus climate index
- The 30 best colleges for LGBT students
- Undergraduate scholarships for outstanding LGBT students
- LGBT Workplace Issues for Astronomers, a poster at January 2011 AAS meeting (PDF)
- LGBTQ college student resource guide by Affordable Colleges Online.
- Human Rights Campaign: Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Intersex Society of North America
Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression, or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth (National Center for Transgender Equality).
Intersex: A term used for people who are born with external genitalia, chromosomes, or internal reproductive systems that are not traditionally associated with either a “standard” male or female (National Center for Transgender Equality).
Questioning: The questioning of one's gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring, or concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons (Wikipedia).
Straight ally: a heterosexual person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTIQA social movements, and challenges homophobia (Wikipedia).
The SGMA (formerly WGLE) logo was designed by Melody Weist.