This Pride Month, there was a lot to celebrate. There was also a lot to reflect on, strive towards, and advocate for.
Around the globe, people have been actively working to silence the voices of those in the LGBTQ+ community. Hate speech and violence intensified this month during the first big Pride events since pandemic restrictions were lifted. And trans people have been particularly targeted. The Human Rights Campaign reported record violence this past year against transgender and gender-nonconforming people, especially Black trans women.
Simultaneously, state legislators have introduced hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. At least 24 of these bills were enacted, giving anti-LGBTQ+ activism “one of its most successful years”, in legislative terms.
Despite setbacks, there have been some encouraging strides.
President Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, aimed at countering the state laws cascading in the past year alone that target the rights of gays, lesbians, transgender youth, and others. Influential figures such as Megan Rapinoe, Mauree Turner, Clark Moore, JoJo Siwa, Schuyler Bailar, and Yasmin Finney all serve as role models who are helping the queer population see themselves in films, sports, and entertainment.
And in the ocean, scientific, and geosciences spaces, organizations like 500 Queer Scientists are tirelessly working to ensure those in the LGBTQ+ community that are in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and STEM-supporting jobs have a platform to stand on.
We still have a ways to go to increase queer representation and inclusion in the ocean sciences.
STEM has continued to suffer from a critical lack of diversity, despite the fields being driving forces of our world’s economic growth and innovation. Diverse communities, including but not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, and disability status, deserve to see their identities reflected by their mentors and role models within the ocean sciences.
By letting diverse voices bring in their unique perspectives to marine conservation, we all reap the benefits. We all develop newer and better ways to protect our ocean. And we all build up the courage and the strength to be ourselves.
So, on the heels of Pride month, we at The Ocean Foundation want to continue to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. Our ocean knows no boundaries or limits, nor does it discriminate. And, neither should we.