by Mary Hoelscher, Ph.D.
Originally published: March 14, 2016
As a bisexual genderqueer person, I never saw or even imagined seeing myself in my classes. Then, in a college genetics class, I learned that there were biologically(!) more than two sexes. Then, in an animal behavior class, I learned that same-sex mating was pretty common in the animal kingdom. My major instantly became far more fascinating. Although early in college I had considered dropping my bachelor of science major and focusing on my bachelor of arts, my interest in what I was learning about gender and sexual diversity contributed to my sticking with my original plan.
Through my experience as a student and later as a high school science teacher, I recognized that LGBT inclusion in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curricula has a real effect on students’ choices. GLSEN’s research confirms this. According to GLSEN’s most recent National School Climate Survey, LGBT high school seniors whose STEM curriculum included positive LGBT content are twice as likely to choose a college major in those fields.
To me, this was no big surprise. We all have a desire to go to places where we belong, where there are people like us. Our choice in careers is not all that different from our choices in parties — we want to know who will be there and if we’re welcome before we go.