Out4STEM Fall 2014

Nearly a year since we began carving out a safe space for LGBTQ youth at the Mütter Museum, our community continues to grow. For our Fall 2014 kick-off event, we had another tour of the museum lead by our medical student partners at LGBTPM+.DSCF9475

Building some trust by getting to know one another and form relationships is the most important part of community-building! This is an impressionistic rendering of our ice-breaker.


…but it was all business once we got in the museum! Here one of our medical student mentors explains some basic anatomy so we could better appreciate the work of Chevalier Jackson, a physician who pioneered a method for pulling mistakenly swallowed objects from people’s throats, earning him the title of “father of endoscopy.”DSCF9529

This exhibit hits you harder when you pull open the drawers to find the collection of bone fragments, peach pits, dentures, and ornate jewelry he extracted from people’s throats.


We learned some developmental biology and touched on concussions and brain injury.


And a tour of the Mütter is incomplete without a stop at the 40-pound megacolon.


PSA: You don’t have to choose between serving face and learning science.

For our October meeting, we dove into some not-so-distant medical history for a discussion about masks:Gittings_Kameny_Fryer

That’s Dr. John E. Fryer in the mask. A gay and closeted psychiatrist, he petitioned the American Psychiatric Association to de-stigmatize homosexuality by removing it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). To do this, he had to wear a mask and disguise his voice, because being gay or advocating for LGBTQ people meant risking his job.


In thinking about how LGBTQ people negotiate safe and unsafe spaces, we spent some time crafting and reflecting on our own “masks.”


What aspects of our identities are important? Do we always get to embody those identities? Our mask activity helped us reflect on these issues as a group, and see how they affect everyone, particularly in the STEM field.


This turned out to be a really lovely community-building event. Slow change happens because of sustained efforts to build relationships and make our communities visible. STEM doesn’t have to be solitary and abstract. STEM is at its best when its tools are wielded by caring communities that value human relationships. We’re so lucky to have some resources to help foster those relationships and build community within the STEM field. Thanks to our partners at Q Spot and LGBTPM+.

Join us for our next evening event on November 20th, “Out on the App: Coming out Again and Again.” 5-7pm at the University of Pennsylvania’s LGBT Center. Find more information here.