Last December we introduced you to the Rainbow Lorikeets, the AOS caucus of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals. In honor of Pride Month, we asked them for an update on what they’ve been up to since they launched!
The Rainbow Lorikeets are excited to be involved with multiple virtual projects, scholarships, and Pride celebrations for the LGBTQIA+ community in 2020! Since launching in 2019, we have been working to fulfill our mission to provide a safe and supportive community for members of the LGBTQIA+ community within the American Ornithological Society. We are focusing on providing resources to better assist students and professionals and connecting across generations of queer folk for the purposes of support, mentoring, and professional development. Some of our most noteworthy planning will be showcased at the virtual NAOC this summer, but we are also currently involved in assisting the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) in developing a trans-centric award, have helped to facilitate a recent Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) panel, and are helping Skype a Scientist plan a virtual Pride month event. Read on for more about all of these initiatives!
NOGLSTP offers annual scholarships for LGBTQIA+ Scientists and Engineers at the undergraduate and graduate levels in amounts of $2,500 and $5,000. We have been encouraging AOS members to apply and distributing the information to other scientific diversity groups to ensure the scholarships will get to those that need it most. Our Advocacy chair, Braelei Hardt, has volunteered to help advise and guide the development of a new NOGLSTP scholarship, which will be announced in June, that is focused on supporting Trans and Non-Binary scientists. The award will be several thousand dollars, and the recipient may choose the option to remain anonymous in deference and respect of their right to control gender presentation and visibility. Braelei’s advice was highly sought to offer experience and considerations specific not only to the needs of Trans/NB Ornithologists, but field biologists at large.
Our chair, Eric Tobin, has been doing a lot of work connecting the Rainbow Lorikeets to other organizations. He assisted in connecting a new coalition of life-sciences diversity initiatives, spearheaded by Dr. Travis Booms, Skype a Scientist, and NOGLSTP, and helped coordinate an effort by all three to host a virtual Pride Month event in June. This includes 15+ events by and for queer scientists, at no charge, to showcase researchers from a myriad of fields. Check out the schedule of events! In January, Eric facilitated SICB’s first LGBTQ+ Workshop and Panel on behalf of NOGLSTP. This year marks the first year that SICB’s queer social group, OutGroup, founded by Shayle Matsuda (@wrong_whale), has been recognized and incorporated by SICB. The panelists and SICB in general imparted many lessons and examples that the RLs have taken to heart in planning our own round-table for the August meeting.
Our Diversity and Ally Operations chairs Carly Aulicky and Chad Wilhite’s proposal for a round table session to discuss what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ ornithologist and how our personal identities impact us in the workplace was accepted for the upcoming 2020 NAOC gathering. We will be bringing together LGBTQIA+ identified and allied ornithologists in a virtual setting to discuss their work, experiences, and personal stories in a safe space. Opening this discussion will provide a space for us to come together to voice our concerns, share our stories, and come together to grow our community and discuss ways to increase LGBTQIA+ visibility and inclusion within the broader ornithological community.
We plan to participate in all of these engaging activities proudly with our new logo, designed by Jess McLaughlin (@jfmclaughlin92) and voted as the winner by our community in January. Jess’s design displays a multitude of LGBTQIA+ pride flags as feathers trailing behind a flying Rainbow Lorikeet. This design, in addition to the other amazing contest entries, will be available for purchase on merchandise this fall. Proceeds from these items will fund social events at upcoming AOS and NAOC conferences, awards for LGBTQIA+ ornithologists, and other initiatives to serve our LGBTQIA+ ornithological community.
Twitter is our preferred branch of social media, and is the platform we use to tweet about LGBTQIA+ resources in the STEM community, scholarships and awards, upcoming conferences or meeting events, and promotions for notable LGBTQIA+ scientists. Be sure to check out our page (@RainbowLors) for the latest news from us. Lastly, we invite any wildlife biologist or ornithologist who has submitted a 500 Queer Scientists profile and is interested in being featured on our Twitter page to contact us! We are happy to tweet short descriptions of professionals in our field to inspire a younger generation and increase visibility of our community in the world today. E-mail us at RainbowLors@americanornithology.org or send a Twitter message to @RainbowLors.