This blog post contains some ways that you can help the LGBTQ+ of FIRST community feel safe and welcome at the FIRST World Championship. A lot of these are suggestions for teams as a whole however, all of these can also be done by individuals:
Have your team hang up transgender and LGBTQ+ pride flags inside their pit.
This is an easy and low-cost idea that allows people to show their support for LGBTQ+ and transgender people. Show FIRST that we are here, we are queer and we are going to be vocal about it. Even if you don’t have LGBTQ+ people who are out on your team, still hang those flags high to show that your team is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
Keep a resource list for transgender and gender non-conforming students (I have one from the LGBTQ+ of FIRST that is linked below) on hand.
Having this would allow anyone who is questioning their identity to get resources on all of it on top of resources for transgender and GnC individuals who may need support because their parents aren’t supportive. Here is a link to the Google sheet that has everything from crisis hotlines to questioning your identity: [Link]
Promote wearing pronoun badges as normality.
Show that pronouns are something we should care about because they can affect a person’s mental health if they are called by the correct pronouns. Have people on your teams wear them, they should be given out by pit admin at Champs. (This does not mean to out people. If people don’t want to be outed, don’t force them to be out or to come out.)
Hang signs up within your teams’ pit saying that discrimination of any kind is prohibited and/or that their pit is a safe space for all LGBTQ+ people.
Show that your team is committed to making sure that FIRST is a safe and welcoming environment for all, even in hostile states like Texas. Having these signs up says that your team is inclusive of LGBTQ+ identities and that your team will continue to make sure that any LGBTQ+ person is able to be themselves on the team or even if they are talking to your team.
Continue putting pressure on FIRST via letter drafting and email writing.
Show FIRST that this isn’t a small minority of people that are going to lay down and give up, and that we will continue to fight until transgender and GnC students are safe at the FIRST World Championship.
Spread the Google Form.
The more information and survey answers I get, the better I can understand how we can support LGBTQ+ students, mentors, alumni, and volunteers. We as a community must stand together to support our LGBTQ+ FIRST Community, hear their voices and concerns about FIRST World Championship, and, learn how to support them and make them safe at the FIRST World Championship.
I will be continuing to update this blog post as much as I can with any more information I get from the Google Form. Thank you so much for listening to the LGBTQ+ FIRST Community and I hope to see some of these suggestions done at the FIRST World Championship!
– Nova Rudy (Your Local Themby of Chaos)