There has recently been an upswing in the number of states attempting to regulate which bathrooms transgender people may use and/or legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people. Anti-trans “bathroom laws” make it illegal for trans people to use bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., corresponding to their gender identity. Anti-LGBTQ laws make it legal, on religious grounds, to discriminate against someone due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in many contexts. These laws further limit LGBTQ people’s access to goods, services, employment, housing, foster/adoption services, and medical care.
Currently, North Carolina and Mississippi have such laws in place. Additional states have similar bills in development.
In light of these new laws (and the possibility of more to come), the full inclusion of LGBTQ astronomers is at risk. We call on astronomy, physics, and planetary science, to stop hosting conferences, workshops, summer schools, and other meetings in states with anti-LGBTQ legislation.
We must ensure the safety and well-being of all conference attendees and members of the scientific community. LGBTQ researchers attending events in these states will be at risk for discrimination and harassment, such as being turned away from hotels and restaurants. Transgender researchers traveling to states with anti-trans bathroom laws also risk legal repercussions and violence for using public restrooms (which can include restrooms at state universities). LGBTQ scientists and students living in these states will face these barriers in their daily lives. It is unconscionable of our field to require individuals to put so much at risk in order to participate in science.
If our field is truly committed to equity and inclusion, it is vital to consider the legalized discrimination of members of our community and to protect our most vulnerable members. It is impossible to stay focused and committed to research without access to such fundamental rights as shelter and medical care or when facing the risk of harassment and assault. Now, more than ever, we need to stand with our LGBTQ community members and ensure that all interested researchers can fully participate in science.