Regarding the article “A Place at the Bench” concerning members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community who are chemists (C&EN, Oct. 17, page 18), I find it objectionable that C&EN continues to inject political issues into our professional society that are unrelated to the aims of the American Chemical Society. ACS should not be taking sides on LGBT issues. Please do not attempt to steer ACS to one side or another on issues that are unrelated to the society’s aims and goals.
Mark Paul Bowman
New Kensington, Pa.
Benjamin Fiore-Walker, manager of ACS’s Department of Diversity Programs, responds:
ACS sees LGBT issues as relevant to chemists in increasingly more diverse and inclusive workplaces. As the C&EN article states, the importance and understanding of what LGBT chemists experience on the job is part of the effort to create more welcoming and inclusive workplaces.
LGBT issues have been on the rise in workplace discussions for several years now as an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies have changed employment policies and have added protections as they realize the value of LGBT employees, market trends, and employee relations. However, the same is not as true for academic employees and students. Higher education lags behind the private sector in the creation of employee protections based on sexual identity and expression. Therefore, LGBT issues are true workplace issues. They move past being an attempt to be merely politically correct when LGBT employees and trainees can suffer workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in 30 states with no legal recourse. This is a different situation from issues of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender in the workplace because these are classes that are protected by antidiscrimination law.
The C&EN article is important because it serves the vital role of discussing how these larger workplace issues play out in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field through the experiences of LGBT chemists. And we should stress that the story relates directly to ACS’s strategic plan. One of ACS’s core values is “diversity and inclusion.” In addition, ACS has a strategic goal to “empower an inclusive community of members with networks, opportunities, resources, and skills to thrive in the global economy.” Thus, the scope of the article fits within the aims, goals, and core values found in ACS’s strategic plan.
I thank C&EN for running the article and having this discussion.
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