Committees

Committee for Sexual-Orientation & Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA)

About

The 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.

History

Established as the Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (WGLE) on 8 January 2012

Members

Appointed by the AAS Board of Trustees

Term

Three years, June to June; staggered

Charge 

To promote equality for sexual-orientation and gender minorities (SGMs) within our profession, including those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, questioning, or queer. 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; and
  • provide resources to support SGM equality within the astronomical profession.

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.

Transtronomers

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.

Speakers Bureau

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 sgma_info@aas.org.

Committee Chair

Stephen S. Lawrence

Chair

Term: Jun 2017 – Jun 2020

Committee Members

K. D. Kuntz

Term: Jun 2017 – Jun 2020

Jason Wright

Term: Jun 2017 – Jun 2020

Tanmoy Laskar

Term: Jun 2017 – Jun 2020

MacKenzie Warren

Term: Jun 2017 – Jun 2020