Pride Month, LGBTQ+ and the Environmental Movement

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“A fabulous planet is the fundamental right of everyone in our shared environment. Systems that strip the natural diversity from society and the earth must be toppled so that every expression of humanity, and all species, can thrive.” – Gerod Rody, Founder and President Emeritus of OUT for Sustainability

This year is the 50th anniversary of Pride Month. Pride began in 1970, in recognition of the Stonewall Uprising, and recalled the uprising’s protest against discriminatory laws, social treatment, and policing while calling for justice and equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Fast forward to June 2020, when, just over a week ago, the Supreme Court delivered a historic ruling extending protections from workplace discrimination to LGBTQ+ people. Yet despite the passage of half a century since Stonewall, and victories including marriage recognition and protections against discrimination, the resilient LGBTQ+ community still experiences inequality in an array of areas.

The LGBTQ+ movement is intersectional. People in the community represent a vast cross-section of races and socio-economic classes. LTBTQ+ black and brown people in particular experience amplified discrimination, as both racial and sexual minorities. This blog will touch on issues related to environmental justice and ok inclusion in the environmental movement. At the end of the blog is a short list, a starting point, of intersectional resources to get connected to organizations and information. Helping increase awareness, visibility, and action on these interwoven issues will strengthen the effort to restore biodiversity and support environmental justice for the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.  And there is so much more to examine and explore than this short text can cover. This blog is an invitation to begin, continue, deepen, and share your exploration of these issues.

The conservation movement is historically grounded as a movement centered on the participation of white, economically advantaged individuals. Yet minorities, including the LGBTQ+  community, are underrepresented in the movement’s systems and structures  – and simultaneously at the leading edge of the experience of environmental harms. One example where this inequity plays out is access to clean air.  It’s well documented that non-white people bear disproportionate health impacts from exposure to air pollution, due to racial segregation, proximity to pollution sources and other factors. People who identify as LGBTQ+ are likewise impacted by poor air quality, with air-quality related cancer rates at 12.3% higher and respiratory risks from exposure to hazardous air pollutants at 23.8% greater than that of heterosexuals.

When it comes to education and professional engagement with STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ describe experiences of discrimination. One survey of 37 transgender physics professionals and students found that more than half of respondents experienced exclusionary treatment and harassment in school or at work. Similarly, among LGBTQ+ chemists, 44% of 270 study respondents described that harassment, intimidation, or exclusionary practices were and are experienced in their careers. The culture of environmental groups is likewise described by LGBTQ+  environmental professionals as ‘alienating’. Yet, the LGBTQ+ community expresses higher concern for environmental issues, responding at a 20% higher rate than heterosexuals when it comes to concern for the ‘current state and future of the environment’. These patterns clearly show a need to listen to and support the LGBTQ+ community and for their leadership to inform and change how the environmental profession and environmental organizations create cultures of inclusivity.

The organizations listed below are re-envisioning how the LGBTQ+ community participates in biodiversity conservation; the resources provide educational information and avenues to support this intersectional movement. These are only a small sampling of the amazing work being done and groups centering environmental activism within the LGBTQ community. The discipline of Queer Ecology asserts that the binary model separating humans from nature is a false proposition, expressing instead that the more-than-human world is inherently and extrordinarily diverse. The natural world is dynamic, mysterious, humbling, complex and contradictory.   Recognizing a richer and deeper understanding of the ecological diversity of non-human systems will support our ability to address new solutions to the multiple environmental crises we are facing. Learning from the leadership of LQBTQ+ voices, experiences, and communities in the environmental movement is an essential part of the equation. Let’s get started by checking out these amazing groups and resources!

LGBTQ+ Environmental Organizations:

Out for Sustainability: LGBTQ organization for the social and physical environment

https://out4s.org/purpose/

O4S runs a number of initiatives including Greener Pride: Working toward carbon-neutral, waste free Pride celebrations

https://out4s.org/greener-pride/

Venture Out Project: Bringing together queer people to experience wilderness

https://www.ventureoutproject.com/

Queer Nature: Ecological awarness and place based skills for healing marginalized populations

https://www.queernature.org/

Out There Adventures: Empowering queer youth to connect with the natural world

http://www.outthereadventures.org/home

LGBTQ Outdoor Summit: opportunity for conservation leaders, the outdoor recreation community, and environmental groups to connect around the status of the LGBTQ community and the outdoors

https://www.lgbtqoutdoorsummit.com/

500 Queer Scientists: Visibility platform for LGBTQ+ and allies working in STEM

https://500queerscientists.com/

The Institute of Queer Ecology

https://queerecology.org/

Intersectional Resources  

Being Queer in the Jungle: The Unique Challenges of LGBTQ Scientists Working in the Field

https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/bmcblog/2017/06/28/being-queer-in-the-jungle-the-unique-challenges-of-lgbtq-scientists-working-in-the-field/

Our Climate Voices

https://www.ourclimatevoices.org/listening-series/queer-trans-liberation

Transgender Rights Climate Intersectionality

https://grist.org/article/transgender-rights-climate-intersectionality/

What the Queer Community Brings to the Fight for Climate Justice

https://grist.org/article/what-the-queer-community-brings-to-the-fight-for-climate-justice/

How to Support Black Trans People Now

https://www.papermag.com/how-to-support-black-trans-people-now-2646148396.html?rebelltitem=13#rebelltitem13

Women, LGBTQ and People of Color Adapt to Climate Change

https://www.americaadapts.org/episodes/2020/2/9/women-lgbtq-people-of-color-adapt-to-climate-change-rewind

Diversity: Pride in Science

https://www.nature.com/news/diversity-pride-in-science-1.15924

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Graphic credit Canva.com

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