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Reactions: Highlighting LGBTQ+ chemists and rising tuition levels

May 14, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 17


Letters to the editor

LGBTQ+ chemists

The cover of the April 4/11, 2022, issue, which has the words "Out and proud: Celebrating LGBTQ+ chemists" in rainbow shades.
Credit: C&EN

This is just a brief thank you from a 50-plus-year American Chemical Society member for your articles celebrating LGBTQ+ chemists (C&EN, April 4/11, 2022, page 20). The time for acknowledging and celebrating queer members of ACS is long overdue. Congratulations.

Harry McKone
West Hartford, Connecticut

Congratulations on a fine issue highlighting LGBTQ+ chemists past and present who have made and are making significant contributions to our science! I enjoyed reading about the great variety of personalities and the scientific endeavors they are engaged in. Please continue to publish similar stories about our colleagues and their work.

Robert F. Brady Jr.
Gaithersburg, Maryland

“Out and Proud” is an impressive and important issue. We need to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ chemists and the challenges they face. One problem for transgender people is getting others to use the right pronoun for their identity. Professor Dennis Baron of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign wrote an excellent book, What’s your Pronoun? Beyond He and She, which came out in 2020. There are more singular pronouns of common gender besides they. One of them is xe, meaning “he or she or neither or declines to state.” It was ignored when I coined it in November 1971. Xe, like the element, was named for xenos, the unknown. Recently it was discovered by nonbinary people and adopted by some of them.

Thank you for a superb issue.

Don Rickter
Arlington, Massachusetts

Your recent issue featuring LGBTQ+ scientists would have been enhanced significantly if you had given us a lexicon with definitions of all the gender assignments required by the diverse members of this group. Clearly he/she is inadequate. If you are going to include these identifiers, you should define them.

Alexander MacLachlan
Wilmington, Delaware

Editor’s note: C&EN did not include a glossary because we wanted to center LGBTQ+ people. For information on terms related to the LGBTQ+ community, see PFLAG’s glossary at

Undergraduate enrollment

I share your concern on dropping undergraduate enrollment numbers as expressed in the editorial in the Feb. 7 issue of C&EN (page 2). The pandemic undoubtedly played a role, but the skyrocketing cost of tuition for higher education is a serious factor that cannot be overlooked. I’m old enough that I remember being able to work two jobs and pay for college tuition, food, and rent. Despite some availability of grants, this is no longer a possibility for the majority of undergraduate students without taking on burdensome student loans.

With a few exceptions, it appears that the ready availability of student loans has only encouraged universities to raise tuition rates to absurd levels. If the US government is to be a source of student loans, there should be accompanying restrictions on how much and how rapidly higher learning institutions can raise tuition. If we cannot make higher education more readily available without a decades-long student debt burden, we will see undergraduate enrollment continuing to decline, much to our detriment.

Robert B. Cody
Portsmouth, New Hampshire


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