Disparities, Concerns, and Recommendations for LGBTQ+ Data Collection within the Biological Sciences

Nathan B Alexander, Douglas Knutson, Leslie K Morrow, Isaac Klimasmith, Emmett M Smith, Madeleine Spellman, Michael Rivera, Maxine Scherz, Kae Fountain, Lucas T Allen-Custodio, Loren Lynch, Thea E Clarkberg, Jaime J Coon (2023). “Disparities, Concerns, and Recommendations for LGBTQ+ Data Collection within the Biological Sciences.” BioScience, biad011 https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biad011

Abstract: The omission of lesbian, gay,  bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, and expansive minoritized sexual and gender identities (hereafter, LGBTQ+) from demographic data collection in science is a critical issue. Ignoring these identities perpetuates practices that drive people out of science, erase experiences, and discount systemic barriers navigated by LGBTQ+ scientists (Freeman 2020). Adding gender diversity and sexual orientation to surveys is one step toward increasing inclusion of LGBTQ+ researchers. Recently, scientific societies have increased collecting demographic data; however, there is still a need for longitudinal studies (Rushworth et al. 2021). LGBTQ+ demographic data allow institutions, educators, and employers to identify systemic barriers, pinpoint key policy changes, and track efforts to improve equity (Freeman 2020, Rushworth et al. 2021, Guyan 2022). However, groups that collect demographic data, such as state and federal agencies, granting agencies (i.e., the National Science Foundation), and universities do not collect data on LGBTQ+ identities, prohibiting evidence-based efforts to increase inclusion and further limiting interpretation of professional society and small-scale surveys (Rushworth et al. 2021). Although there are inherent risks in collecting data on LGBTQ+ people, improvements in data collection are imperative if we are to understand and address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues within the sciences (Aramati Casper et al. 2022).

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