Inclusion in FIRST

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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.

Dating Within Teams (Especially as an LGBTQ+ Student)

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!

  1. Time Management- Don’t completely neglect your partner during build season. Communicate that there will have to be less time spent together, and decide upon a regular time of the week to go on dates. Make sure to leave time for yourself and homework, too! Personally, the only way I could accomplish this was reducing my work schedule to four hours per week.
  2. Announcing the Relationship- Be aware of your partner’s needs; if they do not give you consent to tell others about the relationship, then don’t. If you tell others anyways, remember that you might be outing them to people they aren’t ready to be out to yet, or maybe your partner just doesn’t want to create any unnecessary tension or drama on the team.
  3. Dealing With Drama- Maybe you and your partner broke up. Maybe your team felt it unprofessional to be flamboyantly dating and having public displays of affection. Maybe someone else is jealous. Whatever the case may be, drama isn’t fun for anyone involved. Therefore, if there are any breakups, try to maintain a civil relationship with your ex. If your team doesn’t want you to have PDA, tone it down a notch and remember to use the same manners as you would at a family gathering where your grandparents are watching your every move. If someone is jealous, don’t rub the relationship in their face, and follow a similar procedure to the one described in the previous sentence.

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

LGBTQ+ Purdue Presentation

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

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-Gus 3940

June 21, 2016: A Month Celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride

Allen Ginsberg is an American poet who lived from 1926 to 1997, and was at the forefront of the Beat Generation of poets in the 50s. He was also homosexual, and is well known for his poetry that contains homosexual themes that related to his own life.

Ginsberg was born to a Jewish family in New Jersey, and he grew up well educated both in school, and about a variety of social issues. He graduated high school and ended up at Columbia University, where he began to develop his poetry alongside classmates he met. He befriended William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac in his time there, all of whom were to be prominent names in the Beat Generation. The group together defined what they called a “New Vision,” which Ginsberg described as

“Since art is merely and ultimately self-expressive, we conclude that the fullest art, the most individual, uninfluenced, unrepressed, uninhibited expression of art is true expression and the true art.”

Ginsberg also began drug use in college. He and his group of friends began to toe the line into immorality, and after hiding stolen belongings in his dorm for a friend, Ginsberg was committed to an insane asylum briefly after pleading insanity.

After being released, he made his way to San Francisco, and there continued with the development of the Beat Movement alongside other writers.

He attained his fame with the publication of “Howl” in 1956. “Howl” is described as, “an outcry of rage and despair against a destructive, abusive society,” and features graphic descriptions of heterosexual and homosexual sex, in a time where sodomy was still illegal. It was seized and declared obscene, though through a widespread effort, the poem was redeemed in court and became the centerpiece of the Beat Movement.

Aside from his literary triumphs, Ginsberg was also a figure in the Gay Rights Movement. His open homosexuality and relationship with his lifelong partner Peter Orlovsky aided in helping gay authors and poets find a new voice. His stance on obscenity also aided them in being able to speak frankly about what was before only referenced in whispers.

– Staff: Anna R. 1410

[ x ] [ x ] [ Allen Ginsberg Project ]

EDIT: It has been brought to our attention that Allen Ginsberg was a known pedophile. Although he did a lot for the counterculture movement at the time, it’s important to remember that he was a member of NAMBLA and promoted the exploitation of minors. We apologize for posting about him as a good example of LGBTQIA+ people who influenced STEM.


June 15, 2016 A Month Celebrating LGBT+ Pride

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.